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Mechanics of behavior in non-neuronal systems - and other puzzles from the depths of the ocean

Extraordinary Seminar for Scientists

Date:20/03/2019, 16:00 - 17:00
Speaker: Prof. Manu Prakash, Stanford University
Location: CRTD, auditorium left
Host: DIPP (Dresden International PhD Program)

Abstract
Remarkable behavioral complexity in metazoans can be attributed to the evolution of the neuron and the nervous system. But for such a system to arise in the pre-cambrian era, precursors of animals without neurons must have roamed the earth at some point of time. Soft-bodied animals make for a very poor representation in our fossil records, shutting the door to inferring origins of behavioral complexity prior to nervous systems as we know it. By exploring diverse living relatives of multi-cellular and single-celled organisms spread across the tree of life, I will share examples of quantitative methods to construct behavioral motifs and embodied algorithms in simple non-neuronal systems. Time permitting, I will also share some old biological puzzles, new tools and opportunities and an urgent need to explore planktonic life - the biological soup we call the ocean.