I. Introduction to Evolution
II. Neural Circuits and How They Evolve: A Startling Example!
Part I: Introduction to Evolution
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In her first video, Dr. Hale does an excellent job of defining evolution as a change in heritable characteristics. She uses examples, such as the variable color of the pepper moth, to explain selection for and against specific characteristics. She explains how individual species arise and concludes by describing the techniques, such as fossil and DNA analyses, that scientists can use to build “trees” or phylogenies between related species.
In Part 2 video, Hale explains why the “startle response”, a highly conserved behavior found in most fish and vertebrates, is a good system for studying how neurons connect and neural circuits have evolved. The Mauthner cells are the neurons that control the startle response. By comparing these neurons across many species of fish, it has been possible to follow the organization of the nervous system and control of behavior over hundreds of millions of years.
Melina Hale is a professor of Organismal Biology and Anatomy and Neurobiology and Computational Neuroscience at the University of Chicago. Using predominantly zebra fish, Hale’s lab studies neural circuits that control limb and axis movement and how that movement changes over time. Movement changes can be seen both in the short time frame of development (for instance as tadpoles become frogs) and over evolutionary time.
Hale is a principal investigator on an Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) grant and her enthusiasm for teaching has been recognized with a graduate teaching award. Hale is also involved in outreach to local schools. In addition, Hale is Dean of faculty affairs.
- Eve Marder iBioSeminar: Understanding Circuit Dynamics
- Hopi Hoekstra iBioSeminar: The Genetic Basis of Evolutionary Change in Morphology and Behavior
- Cori Bargmann iBioSeminar: Genes, the Brain and Behavior
- Roger Hanlon iBioSeminar: Rapid Adaptive Camouflage and Signaling in Cephalopods
Hale ME, Long JH Jr, McHenry MJ, Westneat MW. (2002) Evolution of behavior and neural control of the fast-start escape response. Evolution 56(5):993-1007. PMID:12093034
Bierman HS, Schriefer JE, Zottoli SJ, Hale ME. (2004) The effects of head and tail stimulation on the withdrawal startle response of the rope fish (Erpetoichthys calabaricus).J Exp Biol. 207(Pt 22):3985-97. PMID:15472029
Bierman HS, Zottoli SJ, Hale ME. (2009) Evolution of the Mauthner axon cap. Brain Behav Evol. 73(3):174-87. PMID:19494486
Liu YC, Hale ME. (2014) Alternative forms of axial startle behaviors in fishes.Zoology (Jena). 117(1):36-47. PMID: 24374038
Sillar KT. (2009) Mauthner cells. Curr Biol. 19(9):R353-5. Review. PMID:19439253
Hale ME. (2014) Mapping circuits beyond the models: integrating connectomics and comparative neuroscience. Neuron. 83(6):1256-8. Review. PMID: 25233308