Biology 3422: Genes, Brains, and Behavior

Genetic studies of physiological systems underlying animal behavior, including the genetic basis for normal and abnormal behaviors in animals and humans. Topics include: history of behavioral genetics; the ongoing debate about “nature vs. nurture”; contributions of genetic model systems including the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, zebrafish, the mouse Mus musculus, and other animal models; molecular mechanisms underlying the evolution of behavioral phenotypes; the emerging role of epigenetics in regulating nervous-system functions and behavior; the use of genetic and genomic analyses in studies of human behavior and psychiatric disorders.

Biology 3423: Behavioral Genetics Laboratory

This course introduces students to fundamental concepts about how genes govern behavior by using the model system Drosophila melanogaster. Students learn modern and classic laboratory techniques including fly crossing, genetic screens, behavioral assays, microscopy, and electrophysiology. Specifically, we use the GAL4/UAS system to assess the role of microRNAs in a variety of fly behaviors. A primary goal of the course is to develop real-world research skills by having students design, propose, and execute a set of novel research questions. Statistical analysis and interpretation of student data are emphasized. To build a solid conceptual background, lectures are given once per week, and students read, analyze, and discuss primary research articles. Understanding is assessed through journal club reports and presentations, research reports, and a final presentation of experimental results. This course is designed for upper-level students who have taken Bio 2960 and Bio 2970. Credit 3 units. Enrollment limit is set at zero, and students are enrolled from the waitlist. Graduating seniors who need an upper-level laboratory to complete requirements of a biology major program have priority.