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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    • "According to neural reuse, a more phylogenetically recent skill (e.g., number representation) will rely on a wider array of pre-existing neural circuitry and brain structures over more established skills (e.g., attention). For example, the pre-existing neural circuitry involved in finger gnosis (finger localization ) has been shown to be recombined for number representation (Anderson & Penner-Wilger, 2013; Penner-Wilger & Anderson, 2008; Penner-Wilger et al., 2007). Similar models have suggested that the neural circuitry in place for distinguishing differences in physical size may also be activated by numbers (Cantlon, Platt, & Brannon, 2009; Henik, Leibovich, Naparstek, Diesendruck, & Rubinsten, 2011 ). "
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    ABSTRACT: The cross-modal impact of number magnitude (i.e. Arabic digits) on perceived sound loudness was examined. Participants compared a target sound's intensity level against a previously heard reference sound (which they judged as quieter or louder). Paired with each target sound was a task irrelevant Arabic digit that varied in magnitude, being either small (1, 2, 3) or large (7, 8, 9). The degree to which the sound and the digit were synchronized was manipulated, with the digit and sound occurring simultaneously in Experiment 1, and the digit preceding the sound in Experiment 2. Firstly, when target sounds and digits occurred simultaneously, sounds paired with large digits were categorized as loud more frequently than sounds paired with small digits. Secondly, when the events were separated, number magnitude ceased to bias sound intensity judgments. In Experiment 3, the events were still separated, however the participants held the number in short-term memory. In this instance the bias returned. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2015 · Acta psychologica
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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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    ABSTRACT: In this paper, I summarize an emerging debate in the cognitive sciences over the right taxonomy for understanding cognition – the right theory of and vocabulary for describing the structure of the mind – and the proper role of neuroscientific evidence in specifying this taxonomy. In part because the discussion clearly entails a deep reconsideration of the supposed autonomy of psychology from neuroscience, this is a debate in which philosophers should be interested, with which they should be familiar, and to which they should contribute. Here, I outline some of the positions being advocated, and reflect on some of the possible implications of this work both for scientific and folk psychology.
    Preview · Article · Jan 2015 · Philosophy Compass
    • "The determination of functional fingerprints allowed us to also assess functional diversity. A brain region with high diversity is engaged by tasks in multiple task domains, whereas a low-diversity region is more specialized, being engaged by tasks in fewer domains (Anderson, Kinnison, & Pessoa, 2013;Anderson & Penner-Wilger, 2013). Finally, we computed graphtheoretical metrics of centrality that index the relative influence of each insular subdivision in the brain coactivation network. "
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    ABSTRACT: Functional MRI studies report insular activations across a wide range of tasks involving affective, sensory, and motor processing, but also during tasks of high-level perception, attention, and control. Although insular cortical activations are often reported in the literature, the diverse functional roles of this region are still not well understood. We used a meta-analytic approach to analyze the coactivation profiles of insular subdivisions-dorsal anterior, ventral anterior, and posterior insula-across fMRI studies in terms of multiple task domains including emotion, memory, attention, and reasoning. We found extensive coactivation of each insular subdivision, with substantial overlap between coactivation partners for each subdivision. Functional fingerprint analyses revealed that all subdivisions cooperated with a functionally diverse set of regions. Graph-theoretical analyses revealed that the dorsal anterior insula was a highly "central" structure in the coactivation network. Furthermore, analysis of the studies that activate the insular cortex itself showed that the right dorsal anterior insula was a particularly "diverse" structure in that it was likely to be active across multiple task domains. These results highlight the nuanced functional profiles of insular subdivisions and are consistent with recent work suggesting that the dorsal anterior insula can be considered a critical functional hub in the human brain.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2013 · Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
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