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Monkey Brains

Predicting Capacity from Structure



Author:

Susan A. Weiner
Department of Biological, Chemical and Physical Sciences
Roosevelt University
sweiner02@roosevelt.edu

Abstract:

This case study in comparative physiology explores the connections between physiology, evolution and behavior. Students assume the role of researchers who have discovered the body of a rare and poorly studied (fictional) monkey, Callicebus imagini. Students need to figure out what they can learn about the physiology and behavior of the monkey from dissecting the brain of this specimen. To complete this case, students will need to research the functions of areas of the brain and use this information to predict how changes in those areas will impact the monkey. The case consists of two sections, with the second distributed only after the first has been completed. Students work in small groups, performing some of the research work individually and then collaborating to answer the larger questions. The case was developed for a mammalian physiology class, but could also be used in other human or animal physiology classes, or in an animal behavior class.

Objectives:
  • Suggest research approaches for studying the connections between behavior and physiology.
  • Predict how changes in one brain region might affect capabilities or behavior.
  • Describe how evolution can act on brain size.
  • Use allometry to predict the correlation between brain and body size.
Keywords: Primates; comparative physiology; brain; neuroscience; animal behavior; neuroanatomy; natural selection;
Topical Area: Ethics
Educational Level: Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division, Graduate
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Directed, Interrupted
Language: English
Subject Headings: Anatomy   Biology (General)   Ecology   Evolutionary Biology   Neuroscience   Wildlife Management   Zoology  
Date Posted: 7/5/2019
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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