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Evolution of Social Brains

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Evolution of Social Brains
Rayna M. Harris
Graduate Researcher, Hans Hofmann’s Lab
rayna.harris@utexas.edu
raynamharris@gi...

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About me!
Hallsville
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Brains are awesomely diverse and complex!
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Evolution of Social Brains

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This talk was given as a guest lecture in the undergraduate "Comparative Animal Physiology" course at the University of Texas at Austin. The talk has three parts: 1) a very brief personal introduciton about me and my thesis research, 2) an overview of some brain regions and genes that regulate social behaviors in birds, frogs, fish, reptiles, and mammals, 3) a discussion of a study looking at neuromolecular differences between closely related with with different mating systems.

This talk was given as a guest lecture in the undergraduate "Comparative Animal Physiology" course at the University of Texas at Austin. The talk has three parts: 1) a very brief personal introduciton about me and my thesis research, 2) an overview of some brain regions and genes that regulate social behaviors in birds, frogs, fish, reptiles, and mammals, 3) a discussion of a study looking at neuromolecular differences between closely related with with different mating systems.

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Evolution of Social Brains

  1. 1. Evolution of Social Brains Rayna M. Harris Graduate Researcher, Hans Hofmann’s Lab rayna.harris@utexas.edu raynamharris@github.io Comparative Animal Physiology (BIO 361T) April 7, 2016 1
  2. 2. About me! Hallsville 2
  3. 3. Brains are awesomely diverse and complex! 3
  4. 4. Learning, memory, and the hippocampus 4
  5. 5. Evolution of Social Brains • Bird, frog, fish, reptile, and mammal brains • Brain regions and molecules that regulate aggressive and mating behavior • Differences in mating systems 5
  6. 6. “Endless forms most beautiful and wonderful” Fish Amphibians Reptiles Birds Mammals 6
  7. 7. Animal brains are very diverse as well! Amphibians Reptiles Birds Mammals Fish 7
  8. 8. Ecology can shape brain size! Somatosensory (touch) cortex Auditory (echolocation) cortex Visual cortex “…the fittest succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment.” 8
  9. 9. What else could give rise to the similarities and differences in animal brains? 9
  10. 10. Hox genes control body development in all animals! Hox Genes Developing embryos Adults Rodents Nobel Prize: 1995: Lewis, Nüsslein-Volhard, and Wieschaus Flies Fish 10
  11. 11. Do similar genes control brain development? Amphibians Reptiles Birds Mammals Fish O'Connell & Hofmann, 2011 & 2012 11
  12. 12. Yes, similar genes control brain development! Amphibians Reptiles Birds Mammals Fish O'Connell & Hofmann, 2011a & 2012 12
  13. 13. What decisions do animals (including humans) make? 13
  14. 14. Some categories of decision making Find foodFind mates Find shelter Care for family Fight competitors 14
  15. 15. All animals face challengesand opportunities O'Connell & Hofmann, 2011b 15
  16. 16. Some brain regions regulate social behaviors Dopaminergic Reward System Social Behavior NetworkSocial Decision Making Network O'Connell & Hofmann, 2011a & 2012 16
  17. 17. Do the same brain regions control social behavior in all animals? Fish Amphibians Reptiles Birds Mammals O'Connell & Hofmann, 2011a & 2012 17
  18. 18. Yes, the same brain regions control behavior! Mesolimbic Reward System Newman’s Social Behavior Network Shared by both circuits Fish O'Connell & Hofmann, 2011a & 2012 18
  19. 19. Do the same molecules control behavior in all animals? Signaling Molecules Receptors O'Connell & Hofmann, 2011a & 2012 19
  20. 20. Some molecules are known to influence animal social behavior Dopamine Vasopressin Testosterone Estradiol 20
  21. 21. How conserved is gene activity in the same brain regions? O'Connell & Hofmann 2012 Androgen receptor Estrogen receptor Progesterone receptor Dopamine receptor Vasopressin receptor Oxytocin receptor Vasopressin Oxytocin Tyrosine hydroxylase 21 • Which molecules in the striatum are present in all species examined? • Which molecules in the striatum are absent in all species examined? • Which two pairs of species are more similar to each other than to the rest?
  22. 22. How conserved is gene activity in the same brain regions? O'Connell & Hofmann 2012 22 Androgen receptor Estrogen receptor Progesterone receptor Dopamine receptor Vasopressin receptor Oxytocin receptor Vasopressin Oxytocin Tyrosine hydroxylase • What are the most striking similarities and differences in gene expression between the striatum and the proptic area
  23. 23. How conserved is gene activity in the same brain regions? Where signals are received is well conserved Where signals are produced is less conserved. 12 brain regions * 10 genes = 120 rows O'Connell & Hofmann 2012 23
  24. 24. Social animals use similar neuromolecular networks to generate similar behaviors Fish Amphibians Reptiles Birds Mammals 24
  25. 25. If all brains are made of the same parts, how what gives rise to diversity in behavior? 25
  26. 26. Differences in decision making Find foodFind mates Find shelter Care for family Fight competitors 26
  27. 27. How does diversity in mating system arise? Neuromolecular networks that regulates mating system Monogamy Polygamy Oldfield et al. 2013 27
  28. 28. Herichthys cichlid fishes Herichthys cyanoguttatus Texas Cichlid Herichthys minckleyi Cuatro Cienegas Cichlid Oldfield et al. 2013 28
  29. 29. Does behavior change when levels of these neurochemical change? • V1aR, OTR, D1, D2 • ER, PR, AR Dopamine Arginine Vasopressin Testosterone Estradiol 29
  30. 30. This experiment integrates ecology, endocrinology, and molecular biology 1. Catch fish in Shoal Creek 2. Collect blood 3. Dissect brains 4. Quantify hormone levels 5. Extract RNA 6. Quantify gene expression Oldfield et al. 2013 30
  31. 31. 11-ketotestosterone is higher in haremic males Monogamous Haremic High testosterone often leads to: • Decreased paternal care • Increased Aggression Oldfield et al. 2013 31
  32. 32. Vasopressin Receptor activity is higher in the hypothalamus of haremic males Monogamous Haremic High vasopresin receptor is often associated with • Increased aggression • Increased territory size • Important for social behavior Oldfield et al. 2013 32
  33. 33. Diversity in social behavior is a result of quantitative differences in neuromolecular activity Fish Birds Mammals 33
  34. 34. Links to the four papers discussed • O’Connell LA, Hofmann HA (2011a) The vertebrate mesolimbic reward system and social behavior network: A comparative synthesis. Journal of Comparative Neurology. 519:3599-639. PDF • O'Connell LA, Hofmann, HA (2011b) Genes, hormones, and circuits: An integrative approach to study the evolution of social behavior. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology 32:320–335. PDF • O'Connell LA & Hofmann HA (2012) Evolution of a Vertebrate Social Decision-Making Network. Science 336, 1154-1157. PDF • Oldfield RG, Harris RM, Hendrickson DA, Hofmann HA (2013) Arginine Vasotocin and Androgen Pathways are Associated with Mating System Variation in North American Cichlid Fishes. Hormones and Behavior 64, 44–52. PDF 34
  35. 35. Acknowledgements Hans Hofmann Lab The University of Texas at Austin rayna.harris@utexas.edu raynamharris@github.io 35

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