EEB 800 - Biology Seminars
Fall 2019, Section 002 - The Biology of Sex Differences in Brains & Behavior: An Evolutionary Perspective
Instruction Mode: Section 002 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB)
Department: LSA Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
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With permission of instructor.
Advisory Prerequisites:
Graduate standing and permission of instructor.
May be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:


The biology of sex differences is an interdisciplinary topic that has attracted widespread attention from evolutionary biologists to neuroscientists and psychologists. In evolutionary biology, the presence of two biological sexes within a species can be problematic. Both sexes share the same genes yet the traits they influence are often under different sources of natural or sexual selection. Genes that negatively influence the Darwinian fitness of females may not be eliminated from a population because those same genes increase male fitness, which is a form of evolutionary (or sexual) conflict. In neuroscience and psychology, it is widely appreciated that females and males differ in their behavior but the role of biological or cultural mechanisms causing such sex differences is often debated. Sex differences has also recently garnered unwanted attention in the tech industry from those who wish to justify gender discrimination (e.g., Google). This is clearly a topic that provides common ground for evolutionary biologists, neuroscientists, and psychologists alike.

This seminar is designed for students interested in understanding how the presence of two sexes can affect the evolution of brains, behavior, and other traits. It will present a comprehensive view of the ultimate (evolutionary) and proximate (mechanistic) causes of biological sex differences in brains and behavior as well as the potential consequences of this form of evolutionary conflict. Students will read literature from evolutionary biology, animal behavior, neuroscience, and psychology all centered upon the common theme of understanding the biology of sex differences. The papers covered in this course will range from mathematical models about evolutionary conflict to empirical studies in the lab and field from a diversity of taxa (humans to flies).

Course Requirements:

The course requires readings, class participation, leading class discussions, and writing short lay person summaries of required readings (see below). A secondary goal of this course is to improve your popular science writing skills by posting paper summaries online.


EEB 800 - Biology Seminars
Schedule Listing
002 (SEM)
 In Person
MW 1:00PM - 2:30PM
003 (SEM)
 In Person
Tu 1:00PM - 2:00PM
Note: EEB 800.003 will meet in 4419 EECS.

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