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-.


We are continuing our investigation of gene expression with RNA-Seq in frontal cortex from autopsy brains in cognitively normal elderly and people with Alzheimer's disease in collaboration with Prof. Barbara Wold and her laboratory, and with Prof. David Bennett and his colleagues at the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center. These data reveal a strong changes in expression for genes encoding proteins crucial for synaptic functioning, and the expression levels of these genes are correlated with the results of specific tests for memory and focused attention in these individuals during the last 3 years of life. These RNA-Seq measurements were made with cubic millimeter dissections of rapidly frozen tissue obtained at autopsy. We are now extending these observations to the cellular and subcellular domain through collaboration with Prof. Long Cai and his laboratory, who have developed a method for visualizing expression within the microscopic anatomical context with fluorescent in situ hybridizations (FISH) for large series of genes in the same tissue.


Bi/CNS/NB 157. Comparative Nervous Systems. 9 units (2-3-4); third term. Prerequisites: instructor's permission. 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. Letter grades only. Given in alternate years; not offered 2017-18. Instructor: Allman.
Bi/CNS 158. Vertebrate Evolution. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. Prerequisites: Bi 1, Bi 8, or instructor's permission. 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. Letter grades only. Given in alternate years; offered 2017-18. Instructor: Allman.
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 2017-18. 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 2017-18. 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