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NOVA scienceNOW: Profile: Erich Jarvis

Program Overview


Meet Dr. Erich Jarvis, an associate professor in the Department of Neurobiology at Duke University Medical Center. A dancer turned biologist, Jarvis studies songbirds to learn more about how their brains process sound. He helped lead the effort to change scientific nomenclature relating to the brains of birds so that it more closely reflects birds' true intelligence.

This NOVA scienceNOW segment:

  • introduces Erich Jarvis, who describes how dancing taught him to work hard, be disciplined, and collaborate effectively with others.

  • demonstrates the intelligence of birds by showing a crow constructing a tool to remove a small bucket of food from a container.

  • tells how the classic bird brain nomenclature, developed by the German neurologist, Edward Edinger in 1893, misrepresented birds' intelligence.

  • relates how Jarvis worked to revise the nomenclature so that it would more accurately reflect the intelligence of birds.

  • notes that Jarvis was openly criticized for their work revising bird brain nomenclature.

Taping Rights: Can be used up to one year after the program is taped off the air.

Teacher's Guide
NOVA scienceNOW: Profile: Erich Jarvis
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