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Lookup NU author(s): Professor Marcus Kaiser,
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Neural networks show a progressive increase in complexity during the time course of evolution. From diffuse nerve nets in Cnidaria to modular, hierarchical systems in macaque and humans, there is a gradual shift from simple processes involving a limited amount of tasks and modalities to complex functional and behavioral processing integrating different kinds of information from highly specialized tissue. However, studies in a range of species suggest that fundamental similarities, in spatial and topological features as well as in developmental mechanisms for network formation, are retained across evolution. 'Small-world' topology and highly connected regions (hubs) are prevalent across the evolutionary scale, ensuring efficient processing and resilience to internal (e. g. lesions) and external (e. g. environment) changes. Furthermore, in most species, even the establishment of hubs, long-range connections linking distant components, and a modular organization, relies on similar mechanisms. In conclusion, evolutionary divergence leads to greater complexity while following essential developmental constraints.
Author(s): Kaiser M, Varier S
Publication type: Article
Publication status: Published
Journal: Network : computation in neural systems
Print publication date: 01/01/2011
ISSN (print): 0954-898X
ISSN (electronic): 1361-6536
Publisher: Informa Healthcare
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