[Neuroscience] Invertebrate neuroscience and the teaching thereof.

Katharine Dickson via neur-sci%40net.bio.net (by neurobadger from gmail.com)
Wed Mar 23 09:32:44 EST 2011

Hi, [neuroscience].

I'm on the hunt for grad programs this year, as I will start the
actual application process in fall 2012, and one rather odd
characteristic I noticed about even many of the internationally
very-well-known programs (on the level of Stanford, Harvard, etc.) is
that there seem to be very few, if any, courses in any programs that
have an emphasis on comparative neurobiology across all animal phyla
(and not limited to, say, just the more well-known model organisms
such as Drosophila and Aplysia).

In my very humble opinion, this seems to be sort of a restrictive view
of neurobiology; limiting it essentially to vertebrates plus a handful
of token invertebrate species seems as if it really neglects the fact
that there is a huge diversity of nervous systems out there (including
Octopus vulgaris, who has an in my opinion enormous number of named
lobes in its brain) that grad students really deserve to be aware of
even if they're going to end up researching nervous systems more
similar to our own.

I wonder if the teaching of neuroscience to graduate students would be
improved if we had to take at least one comparative course.

I understand the focus on vertebrate nervous systems and that work on
them is more likely to go from basic research to benefits for society,
and that there's clearly not as much research on invertebrate nervous
systems as on vertebrates.

What do each of you believe the value of invertebrate neuroscience is
to neuroscience as a whole and what do you think every person who does
neuroscience should know about it?

(Take all this with a grain - nay, a whole mine - of salt, since I am
a wee undergrad.)

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