A Person like you… Disabled but able






                My name is Michael Tarsitano, and I was an academic doctor, working in the fields of animal behaviour and sensory integration (e.g. Cognitive – Neurobiology). Now I am a brain cancer victim, suffering from the effects of the removal of a medulloblastoma while conducting research at the Department of Integrated Zoology at the University of California at Berkeley.   The cancer forced me out of the world of research and into the world of the disabled, a traumatic experience. 


         Since my initial release from the hospital, I have been using whatever knowledge and skills I have to build a set of computer rehabilitation exercises similar to those used in the rehabilitation clinics I have been in.  I want to create something that patients can use at home outside of treatment.  Such “Home Versions” of these commercial rehabilitation games already exist, but their cost is usually too high for most patients to afford, and NOT covered by any Health Insurance.  This creates a lack, and limits their effectiveness as a therapeutic tool.  In order to eliminate this lack and improve this form of therapy, my “Homework” exercises are free.





January, 1997: Doctor of Philosophy in Animal Behaviour, University of Sussex, Brighton, East Sussex , UK


                            Thesis: "Examination of the mechanisms used by Portia to complete detours."



May,  1992: Masters of Science in Animal  Behaviour, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand


                            Thesis: "Comparative study of the abilities of jumping spiders to solve problems."



May, 1988:  Bachelor of Arts in Classics, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA






         1996 –1997: University Konstanz, Lehrstuhl für Verhaltensbiologie

                   Research topic: „Examination of the vibration signals used by Portia,

                   a web-invading jumping spider, in order to deceive its prey."


         1999 – 2000: University of California at Berkeley

                   Research topic: "Olfactory and Visual Sensory Integration in Drosophila melanogaster.





         2000 – Today: Undergoing rehabilitation after suffering from a medulloblastoma removed at end of 2000.





Tarsitano, M. S. (2006) Route selection by a  jumping spider (Portia labiata) during the locomotory

phase of a detour. Animal Behaviour, 2008, 72,1437-1442


  Frye, M. A., Tarsitano M.S. & Dickinson, M.H.  (2003) Oder Location requires visual

         feedback during free flight in Drosophila melanogaster Journal of Experimental Biology, 843-845


Tarsitano, M. S. & Kirchner, W. H.(2001) Vibration courtship signals of Zygiella x-notata (Clerck)

(Araneae: Araneidae), Bulletin of the British Arachnological Society, 12 (1), 26-32


Jackson, R.R, Carter, C. M. & Tarsitano, M.S. &. (2001) Trial and Error Solving of a Confinement

Problem by a jumping spider, Portia Fimbriata Behaviour,138,1215-1234




To Start Page


Photos (left to right) My sister and I sharing a watermelon; myself at my brother in-law’s wedding;

my brother and I sharing a laugh; relaxing on the sofa watching TV


(If you want to help with this project, go back to the start page, then click on the “Donate” button)