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Neuroethology

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Definition

noun

A discipline that deals with the scientific study of the neural basis of natural animal behavior


Supplement

Neuroethology is a discipline that studies the neural basis controlling the natural behavior of animals. It encompasses various fields such as ethology and neuroscience. Ethology is the study of animal behavior with emphasis on the behavioral patterns that occur in natural environment. Neuroscience is the scientific study of the nervous system and is concerned with the structure, development, function, chemistry, pharmacology, and pathology of the nervous system. Modern tools and technologies (e.g. molecular biology, electrophysiology, computational methods, etc.) led to the advancement of research on nervous system. Neuroethology applies evolutionary and comparative approach in studying the neural basis of animal behavior in the natural environment. One of its aims is to understand the underlying mechanism regulating the nervous system that, in turn, affects animal behavior. One in particular is determining the mechanism involved in the central nervous system that translates biological stimuli into natural behavior.

Experts or specialists in this field are called neuroethologists. Jörg-Peter Ewert, a specialist in this field, is one of the pioneers. He studied the neurophysiological bases of amphibian behavior. Another notable expert is Masakazu Konishi, a Japanese neurobiologist. He conducted a research on prey capture auditory systems of barn owls and singing in songbirds.


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