Unsupervised Thinking
a podcast about neuroscience, artificial intelligence and science more broadly

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Episode 46: What We Learn from Model Organisms

From worms to flies, and mice to macaques, neuroscientists study a range (but not very large range...) of animals when they study "the brain". On this episode we ask a lot of questions about these model organisms, such as: how are they chosen? should we use more diverse ones? and what is a model organism actually a model of? We also talk about how the development of genetic tools for certain animals, like mice, have made them the dominant lab animal and the difficulty of bringing a new model species onto the scene. We also get into the special role that simple organisms, like C. elegans, play and how we can extrapolate findings from these small animals to more complex ones. Throughout, special guest Adam Calhoun joins us in asking "What even is the purpose of neuroscience???" and discussing the extent to which mice do or do not see like humans. 

We read:

The emperor’s new wardrobe: Re-balancing diversity of animal models in neuroscience research
Model organisms: new kids on the block
The fruits of fly research
C. elegans: a model system for systems neuroscience

And here are some other readings on the topic:
Non-mammalian models in behavioral neuroscience: consequences for biological psychiatry
100 years of Drosophila research and its impact on vertebrate neuroscience: a history lesson for the future
Hail Hydra! Doing neuroscience without a brain
Special Issue: Contributions from different model organisms to brain research
Adam's Twitter thread

And we mentioned previous episodes:
How Do We Study Behavior?
The Connectome
Related as well:
Does Neuroscience Need More Behavior?

To listen to (or download) this episode, (right) click here

As always, our jazzy theme music "Quirky Dog" is courtesy of Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

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