Neural Reuse in the Evolution and Development of the Brain: Evidence for Developmental Homology?

Department of Psychology, Franklin & Marshall College, P.O. Box 3003, Lancaster, PA 17604-3003. .
Developmental Psychobiology (Impact Factor: 3.31). 01/2013; 55(1). DOI: 10.1002/dev.21055
Source: PubMed


This article lays out some of the empirical evidence for the importance of neural reuse-the reuse of existing (inherited and/or early developing) neural circuitry for multiple behavioral purposes-in defining the overall functional structure of the brain. We then discuss in some detail one particular instance of such reuse: the involvement of a local neural circuit in finger awareness, number representation, and other diverse functions. Finally, we consider whether and how the notion of a developmental homology can help us understand the relationships between the cognitive functions that develop out of shared neural supports. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Dev Psychobiol.

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    • "I don't wish to over-interpret a single sentence from this very interesting and rich paper, but I'll note two things here: (i) what a 'system' in the brain is, how much its definition should be tied to specialized psychological function, and how much neural overlap there can be between systems and still be considered distinct, are all issues in need of clarification; (ii) although the claim that without a neural difference there can be no psychological difference seems clear (if itself in need of critical scrutiny), the kind of neural difference that is required is much less clear. Justification is needed for the claim that what it requires is neural segregation between different tasks, as opposed, for instance, to different patterns of cooperation between the same regions (Anderson and Penner-Wilger 2013; Cole et al. 2013). "
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