John M. Allman

Frank P. Hixon Professor of Neurobiology
B.A., University of Virginia, 1965; A.M., University of Chicago, 1968; Ph.D., 1971. Assistant Professor, Caltech, 1974-77; Associate Professor, 1977-84; Professor, 1984-89; Hixon Professor, 1989-.

Brain and Behavior in Primates

My interests lie in the evolutionary and ontogenetic development of brain. My colleagues and I are continuing to examine the function and developmental timeline of anterior cingulate cortex, particularly the uniquely-homonoid anterior cingulate spindle cells. We are using a variety of histological methods to visualize the complex structure of these cells and will be performing computer simulations of the cells activity in living brain. We are also pursuing several lines of research investigating evolutionary pressures and scaling relationships in mammalian brains. We have performed computer-assisted imaging of living and fixed brains of modern species as well as subfossil and fossil samples of extinct species. These images are being used to reconstruct the brain in three dimensions and to make measurements of cortical surface areas and volumes. Finally, we are continuing research on the visual system of primates. We are particularly interested primitive primates, whose visual systems may provide insights into the early evolution of the primate lineage.


Bi/CNS/NB 216. Behavior of Mammals. 6 units (2-0-4); first term. A course of lectures, readings, and discussions focused on the genetic, physiological, and ecological bases of behavior in mammals. A basic knowledge of neuroanatomy and neurophysiology is desirable. Given in alternate years; offered 2013-14. Instructor: Allman.
Bi/CNS 158. Vertebrate Evolution. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. An integrative approach to the study of vertebrate evolution combining comparative anatomical, behavioral, embryological, genetic, paleontological, and physiological findings. Special emphasis will be given to: (1) the modification of developmental programs in evolution; (2) homeostatic systems for temperature regulation; (3) changes in the life cycle governing longevity and death; (4) the evolution of brain and behavior. Given in alternate years; offered 2013-14. Instructor: Allman.
Bi/CNS/NB 217. Central Mechanisms in Perception. 6 units (2-0-4); first term. Reading and discussions of behavioral and electrophysiological studies of the systems for the processing of sensory information in the brain. Given in alternate years; not offered 2013-14. Instructor: Allman.
Bi/CNS/NB 157. Comparative Nervous Systems. 9 units (2-3-4); third term. An introduction to the comparative study of the gross and microscopic structure of nervous systems. Emphasis on the vertebrate nervous system; also, the highly developed central nervous systems found in arthropods and cephalopods. Variation in nervous system structure with function and with behavioral and ecological specializations and the evolution of the vertebrate brain. Given in alternate years; not offered 2013-14. Instructor: Allman.
Selected Publications 


  • The Human Illnesses by Peter C. Williamson and John Allman, Oxford University Press, New York, 2011.
  •  Evolving Brains by John Allman, Scientific American Library - W. H. Freeman, New York, 2000. Download