Article

Self-Organisation in the Nervous System

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Abstract

The term self-organization refers to the process by which individuals organize their communal behavior to create global order by interactions amongst themselves rather than through external intervention or instruction. As a highly complex and dynamic system involving many different elements interacting with each other, the nervous system displays many features of self-organization. This chapter discusses three forms of neural self-organization namely self-organization in development, self-organization as a complement to experiential changes, and self-organization as a complement to damage. Self-organization in development is concerned the development of the nervous system. Since a key challenge in our understanding of the nervous system is to comprehend how such a highly structured yet complex system can emerge from a single fertilized egg. Self-organization as a complement to experiential changes refers to later stages in development, when self-organization plays a role along with other mechanisms such as those involving external signals arising from the sensory environment. Self-organization as a complement to damage is attributed to the adult nervous system that can respond to surgical or accidental damage. The facility for damaged brain to regenerate is either minimal or non-existent, which implies that the brain can self-organize, allowing healthy regions to take over functions previously carried out by other regions.

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Brain damage, brain repair
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  • A E Rosser
  • S B Dunnet
Fawcett, J. W., Rosser, A. E., and Dunnet, S. B. (2001). Brain damage, brain repair. Oxford University Press.
  • G M Shepherd
Shepherd, G. M. (1994). Neurobiology. Oxford University Press, 3rd edition.
The developing brain
  • M Brown
  • R Keynes
  • A Lumsden
Brown, M., Keynes, R., and Lumsden, A. (2001), The developing brain, Oxford University Press.
The Triumph of the Embryo
  • L Wolpert
Wolpert, L. (1991). The Triumph of the Embryo. Oxford University Press.
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is a collection of papers reviewing recent research in this field
  • Brain Fawcett
Brain damage and repair Fawcett et al. (2001) is a collection of papers reviewing recent research in this field. References
is a text at the molecular biology level and Wolpert (1991) is a readable introduction to embryonic development for non-specialists
  • Development Alberts
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are research level texts on the development of the nervous system, the latter two being more recent. The recent research monograph by Price and Willshaw (2000) describes genetic, molecular, systems and modelling approaches to understanding neocortical development
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Development of the nervous system Purves and Lichtman (1985); Sanes et al. (2000); Brown et al. (2001) are research level texts on the development of the nervous system, the latter two being more recent. The recent research monograph by Price and Willshaw (2000) describes genetic, molecular, systems and modelling approaches to understanding neocortical development. Elman (1996) takes a connectionist approach to development.
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  • D Hebb
Hebb, D. (1949). The organisation of behavior. Wiley, New York.
From Neuron to Brain
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  • P A Fuchs
  • A R Martin
  • B G Wallace
Nicholls, J. G., Fuchs, P. A., Martin, A. R., and Wallace, B. G. (2001). From Neuron to Brain. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, Mass., 4th edition.
Chemoaffinity in the orderly growth of nerve fiber patterns and connections
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Sperry, R. W. (1963). Chemoaffinity in the orderly growth of nerve fiber patterns and connections. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci., USA, 50:703-710.
are research level texts on the development of the nervous system, the latter two being more recent. The recent research monograph by Price and Willshaw (2000) describes genetic, molecular, systems and modelling approaches to understanding neocortical development
  • Brown
Brown et al. (2001) are research level texts on the development of the nervous system, the latter two being more recent. The recent research monograph by Price and Willshaw (2000) describes genetic, molecular, systems and modelling approaches to understanding neocortical development. Elman (1996) takes a connectionist approach to development.
Principles of Neural Development
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  • J W Lichtman
Purves, D. and Lichtman, J. W. (1985). Principles of Neural Development. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, MA.