Office hours: 5229 BI
Mon 12-1, Wed 11-12
Brain, Behavior & Info Processing
MCB / NEUR / BIOP 419
Prof. Mark Nelson (m-nelson at illinois.edu)
9:30-10:50 TR, 1103 Siebel, Spring 2018
Brains are amazing! How did brains evolve? How are they organized?
What sorts of information processing principles do they
implement? How do these principles give rise to adaptive behavior and
This course focuses on understanding the information processing problems that
organisms face in natural environments and how nervous systems have evolved to
solve those problems.
We will explore evolutionary trends and trajectories
leading from single-cell behavior,
to the emergence of nervous systems in multicellular organisms,
to the sophisticated information processing capabilities of vertebrate brains.
We will introduce the use of computer modeling and simulation techiques
for exploring nervous system function and will design simple 'brains' for
artificial creatures in virtual environments!
Introductory courses in physics, biology, calculus and previous programming experience, or consent of instructor.
From Maynard Smith & Szathmary (1995)
The Major Transitions in Evolution.
Mark E. Nelson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2005-2016.