Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Modular Descriptions of Behavior

One of the most interesting points to me in the Hoekstra papers was that current genomic research usually requires a quantifiable, discrete trait to analyze genetically, and that animal behavior seems to rarely exist in such modules.  However, This article lists many behaviors that are likely to act modularly and be controlled by a few genes, allowing for the possibility of genetic analysis on these behaviors.  The paper focuses mainly on mouse courtship and mating behaviors as well as the hormones and receptors known to influence them, demonstrating that apparently complex behaviors can sometimes be broken down into components which can be measured more quantitatively.  Finally, it discusses the potential neurological mechanisms of modular behaviors, such as genetic control of building neural pathways.  Though we are certainly a long way from understanding the genetics of very complex behaviors, these papers indicate that it really may be possible in cases of innate actions.

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