Dr. Kenneth C. Catania

Vanderbilt University

21 September, 2001,Friday, 3:30-4:30pm in Life Sciences Building 112

A nose that acts like an eye - the star-nosed mole's unusual sense of touch

Star-nosed moles are strange looking mammals, and their sensory system is as unusual as their appearance. The star-nose is not used for smell, but rather for touch, and the touch system has many parallels with a visual system. This sensory system has been fascinating to investigate and the results will be discussed in a broad context focusing on the questions: What is the star for? How does it function? How are brain areas related to the star organized? and finally, How could such an unusual structure evolve? These questions will be addressed by including aspects of star-nosed mole behavior, brain organization, sensory physiology, development, and evolution.