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B.A., Swarthmore College
As a neuroethologist, Dr. Leininger researches how the nervous system functions, develops, and evolves to generate the varied animal behaviors present in nature. She uses the courtship calls of African clawed frogs (Xenopus) as a test case to understand the neural correlates of behavioral evolution. Using techniques such as behavioral recordings, electrophysiology, and histochemistry, her research program addresses questions such as why some species’ vocal repertoires exhibit extreme sex differences while others do not, and why some species’ vocalizations are more complex than others. African clawed frogs are an excellent group of organisms in which to answer these questions, because their evolutionary relationships are well resolved and some of the neural, muscular, and hormonal mechanisms underlying vocalization are known in select species. Ultimately, this research informs our understanding of how neural circuits change over the course of evolution, both within and between sexes.
In addition to her neuroscience research, Dr. Leininger is also interested in science education research, with an emphasis on the teaching and learning of visual literacy in the sciences.
Sex, Gender, Mind, and Brain
Foundations of Biology II
- Kelley, D.B., Elliott, T.M., Evans, B., Hall, I., Leininger, E., Rhodes, H., Yamaguchi, A., Zornik, E. 2017. Probing forebrain to hindbrain circuit functions in Xenopus. Genesis: The Journal of Genetics and Development 55:1-2.
- Leininger, E.C., Kelley, D.B. 2015. Evolution of courtship songs in Xenopus: vocal pattern generation and sound production. Cytogenetics and Genome Research 145:302-314.
- Leininger, E.C., Kitayama, K., Kelley, D.B. 2015 Species-specific loss of sexual dimorphism in vocal effectors accompanies vocal simplification in African clawed frogs (Xenopus). Journal of Experimental Biology 218(6): 849 – 857.
- Leininger, E.C., Kelley, D.B. 2013. Distinct neural and neuromuscular strategies underlie independent evolution of simplified advertisement calls. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B. 280(1756): 20122639.