Evolution, Cognition, and Behavior (BIO2130.01)

Blake Jones

Are nonhuman animals ‘intelligent’? How do they communicate? Do they form life-long memories? Why have different cognitive abilities evolved in different animals? This course will explore these questions and more by integrating across disciplines all aimed at understanding how animals (including humans) have evolved to behave and think. The discovery that nonhuman animals possess human-like cognitive abilities has sparked intense research and debate in evolutionary biology, and we will work to understand how and why complex cognitive traits have evolved across taxa. We will focus on how individuals acquire, encode, interpret, and respond to information from their physical and social environments. We will draw on primary literature to review past and contemporary hypotheses in Ethology, Animal Cognition, Comparative Psychology, and Behavioral Neuroscience. Topics will include sensory perception, learning and memory, language, numeracy, theory of mind, consciousness, and more.

Learning Outcomes:
1) Learn the fundamental biological concepts that explain behavior and cognitive processes.
2) Understand the role of natural and sexual selection in the evolution of behavior and cognition.
3) Develop a robust knowledge of the complex cognitive abilities of nonhuman animals
4) Learn to understand and synthesize primary scientific literature.
5) Develop written and oral communication skills.

Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Course Level: 2000-level
Credits: 4
T/F 2:10PM - 4:00PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 20
Course Frequency: Every 2-3 years

Categories: 2000 , All courses , Biology , Four Credit , Fully In-Person
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