About this Research Topic
A primary goal of Neuroethology is to illuminate neural mechanisms underlying naturalistic behavior. To characterize basic principles of neural control and coding, scientists often conduct experiments under controlled settings in restrained animals that are placed in an artificial environment and/or perceive abstract stimuli. However, a more complete picture of the diverse array of behaviors emerges when neuroethological studies are conducted in animals that are allowed to behave freely in a naturalistic environment. Methodological limitations and a lack of controllability clearly represent challenges to such approaches but are by no means insurmountable. Technological advancements over the last decade, such as miniature recording devices, implantable electrode arrays, virtual-reality technology, automated behavioral tracking systems and new methods to record natural sensory scenes, open up new avenues to move neuroethological research closer to its ultimate goal of understanding the neural control of behavior in its natural context.
This Research Topic aims to provide a platform to accumulate and disseminate recent research in Naturalistic Neurobiology and to highlight experimental approaches and technological advancements that consider natural contexts when investigating the neural bases of animal (including human) behavior and take Naturalistic Neuroscience from the lab to the field. Therefore, reports that showcase how behavior and their neural underpinnings can be successfully studied in both field and laboratory settings will be especially welcomed.
We will consider Original Research articles and Methods-based articles that report on:
- Neurophysiological work performed in intact animals (especially with the goal to record in freely moving animals)
- Neuroscientific studies that consider the behavioral context (e.g. motivation, attention, social environment, development) that subjects experience during experiments
- Experiments that utilize naturalistic inputs/outputs to study sensory encoding, motor control, or cognitive processes
- Neuroethological studies performed in field-based settings
- Studies that utilize artificial input or are performed in artificial contexts/laboratory environments, but discuss the advantages/disadvantages of the chosen approach in comparison to a more naturalistic approach
- Theoretical studies utilizing naturalistic stimuli (including movements in bioinspired robotics)
- The development of new analysis tools or recording technologies (e.g. behavioral tracking, wireless recordings) that could facilitate naturalistic approaches to study the neural mechanisms of behavior
But we also especially welcome contributions of Review articles summarizing the achievements previously made in the direction of “Naturalistic Neuroscience”.
Keywords: Neuroethology, Animal behavior, Naturalistic context, Neural mechanisms, Behavioral neurobiology
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.