Erich Jarvis: What birds can teach us about ourselves

Hannah Smith is a Biology PhD student at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Hannah is interested in the biological pathways that regulate aging, and whether we can target these pathways to make people healthier in old age (but she’s currently doing experiments on the microscopic nematode worm C. elegans, not humans). Wei Wu is a graduate student in the Design Studies program at … Continue reading Erich Jarvis: What birds can teach us about ourselves

Erich Jarvis: What birds can teach us about ourselves

by Hannah Smith Have you ever wondered why you can teach a parakeet to talk, but you can’t teach a dog or a cat? Dr. Erich Jarvis has spent his scientific career studying the brain pathways required for this behavior, called vocal learning, and trying to decipher how this trait evolved only in a handful of animals. But before he was well known around the … Continue reading Erich Jarvis: What birds can teach us about ourselves

My Favorite Things

The orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) is an area of the brain located in the prefrontal cortex, which, as its name suggests, is the front part of the brain. The OFC is my favorite area of the brain, partially because it was the first region I studied, but mostly because of its complex role in motivated behaviors. The OFC is comprised of five subregions: medial, ventral, ventrolateral, … Continue reading My Favorite Things

Slime molds are capable of passing on learned behaviors to new cell populations

A group at Toulouse University in France has found that slime molds are capable of passing on learned behaviors from population to another. After learning how to navigate around an unpleasant stimulus in order to reach its food, the slime mold was merged with a naïve slime mold and then separated. The naïve slime mold then underwent the original experiment and demonstrated the learned behaviors, despite never having been in that situation before. Continue reading Slime molds are capable of passing on learned behaviors to new cell populations