Hans Hofmann discusses his research on the influences of environment and genetics on the brains and behavior of cichlid fish

Hans Hofmann of the University of Texas, Austin, is researching the influences of environment and genetics on the brains and behavior of cichlid fish. Cichlids provide excellent model organisms for such studies because thousands of species of cichlids have evolved; many of these species are genetically similar but behaviorally and socially different from one another. Hofmann is using the diversity of cichlid species to help identify which genes regulate various behaviors and evaluate how different social environments affect brain function and behavior.

Mammals and cichlids share many of the same genetic mechanisms that are sensitive to social environments and help govern mating systems (such as monogamous vs. non-monogamous systems) and parental care systems (such as those that involve fatherly caretaking vs. those that don't). Therefore, research on the effect of social environments on cichlid brains, genetics and behavior may ultimately help advance our understanding of differing human mating and parental care systems.

Provided by the National Science Foundation

Runtime: 3:22

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