Yopak ZoMBiE Lab Neuroscience is served... Hot off the presses! Can brain anatomy provide insights into behavior? Check out our paper in Scientific Reports on the brain of the Greenland shark to find out! (Photo credit: NRK) The ZoMBiE Lab studies the evolution of neural systems, particularly in how brain size and formation varies across sharks and their relatives. (Photo: Jeff Janowski, UNCW) Meet the ZoMBiE Lab! Read a bit more about what we do... We are always working to push the boundaries of innovation with cutting edge bioimaging techniques Hot off the presses! Can brain anatomy provide insights into behavior? Check out our paper in Scientific Reports on the brain of the Greenland shark to find out! (Photo credit: NRK) The ZoMBiE Lab studies the evolution of neural systems, particularly in how brain size and formation varies across sharks and their relatives. (Photo: Jeff Janowski, UNCW) Meet the ZoMBiE Lab! Read a bit more about what we do... We are always working to push the boundaries of innovation with cutting edge bioimaging techniques UNCW ZoMBiE Lab: Zootomical Morphology of the Brain and Its Evolution The ZoMBiE Lab focuses on the evolution of neural systems, particularly how brains have diversified within some of the earliest vertebrate groups, namely sharks, skates, rays, and chimaerids (the cartilaginous fishes). Dr. Yopak and her team explores comparative neuroanatomy within this clade and how the development of major brain areas between species in conjunction with the adaptive evolution of their sensory and motor systems. Our data suggest that brain organization and the relative development of major brain structures reflect a combination of animal’s ecology and a range of life history characteristics, in addition to developmental and phylogenetic constraints, a pattern similarly documented in other vertebrate groups.  We utilize a variety of traditional and novel techniques to explore questions related to brain evolution of sharks and their relatives, including histology and immunohistochemistry, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and flow cytometry. As a perfect ‘bioindicator,’ variation in brain development can allow us to make predictions about sensory and behavioral specialization across species, highlight transitions in life-history stages within a single species, and predict the fitness consequences of anthropogenic disturbances and environmental change. These data pave the way for predicting cognitive function and/or more complex behavioral repertoires in fishes, with implications for how “intelligence” has evolved across vertebrates.

Yopak ZoMBiE Lab

Neuroscience is served...

UNCW ZoMBiE Lab: Zootomical Morphology of the Brain and Its Evolution

The ZoMBiE Lab focuses on the evolution of neural systems, particularly how brains have diversified within some of the earliest vertebrate groups, namely sharks, skates, rays, and chimaerids (the cartilaginous fishes). Dr. Yopak and her team explores comparative neuroanatomy within this clade and how the development of major brain areas between species in conjunction with the adaptive evolution of their sensory and motor systems. Our data suggest that brain organization and the relative development of major brain structures reflect a combination of animal’s ecology and a range of life history characteristics, in addition to developmental and phylogenetic constraints, a pattern similarly documented in other vertebrate groups. 

We utilize a variety of traditional and novel techniques to explore questions related to brain evolution of sharks and their relatives, including histology and immunohistochemistry, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and flow cytometry. As a perfect ‘bioindicator,’ variation in brain development can allow us to make predictions about sensory and behavioral specialization across species, highlight transitions in life-history stages within a single species, and predict the fitness consequences of anthropogenic disturbances and environmental change. These data pave the way for predicting cognitive function and/or more complex behavioral repertoires in fishes, with implications for how “intelligence” has evolved across vertebrates.