Newsletter Article

Faculty Spotlight: David Gire and the Rebirth of the Neurobehavior Lab class (Psych 332)

David Gire
David Gire

Dr. David Gire is spearheading exciting new changes to the Neurobehavior Lab course (Psych 332), an undergraduate course in Psychology that explores neural mechanisms of behavior of animals.

In the past, the primary animal subjects were rats but now Professor Gire has now begun to incorporate into the lab course the use of non-traditional invertebrate animal subjects such as octopuses and cockroaches. Dr. Gire is now using octopuses in lab exercises that involve analysis of octopus chemotaxis and tactile behavior using video recordings of the behavior and automated arm tracking software to examine how octopuses track objects using olfaction and tactile cues.

While students still learn about the brain neuroanatomy of sheep via brain dissections of preserved specimens, students are also now taking advantage of the resources made available by Allen Institute that include the mouse brain connectivity atlas. This resource allows students to explore a brain-wide map of neural projections throughout the mouse brain including cell-type specific data. The brain atlases by the Allen Institute are cutting-edge resources that have been incorporated into the Psych 322 class to help students learn brain neuroanatomy.

In addition, students can now gain hand-on experience running electrophysiology lab experiments performing neural recordings of sensory structures in the cockroach. The course has been a lot of work to gear up for and is being offered for the first time in this new format in autumn 2019. The first class is already full!