E46: What We Learn from Model Organisms

E46: What We Learn from Model Organisms

Unsupervised Thinking

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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.
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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.
...Read More