Tuesday, September 11, 2012
411 West Hall
Leah Krubitzer is a Professor at University of California, DavisDr. Krubitzer is interested in how complex brains, such as those in humans, are built from simpler forms. Her work examines the anatomical connections and electrophysiological properties of neurons in the neocortex, the portion of the brain responsible for perception, cognition, learning, and memory. Through comparative studies, it is possible to determine which features of the neocortex are shared by all mammals, and how new features have been added during morphological or behavioral specialization. In this way, she can reconstruct the evolution of the neocortex and its relationship to functional changes. Her work accounts for the remarkable diversity in mammalian behavioral and perceptual abilities through the action of a few evolutionarily old developmental mechanisms. While constraining evolutionary change, these mechanisms have also provided the variation needed for such diversification.