Review

Homology, neocortex, and the evolution of developmental mechanisms

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Science  12 Oct 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6411, pp. 190-193
DOI: 10.1126/science.aau3711

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Abstract

The six-layered neocortex of the mammalian pallium has no clear homolog in birds or non-avian reptiles. Recent research indicates that although these extant amniotes possess a variety of divergent and nonhomologous pallial structures, they share a conserved set of neuronal cell types and circuitries. These findings suggest a principle of brain evolution: that natural selection preferentially preserves the integrity of information-processing pathways, whereas other levels of biological organization, such as the three-dimensional architectures of neuronal assemblies, are less constrained. We review the similarities of pallial neuronal cell types in amniotes, delineate candidate gene regulatory networks for their cellular identities, and propose a model of developmental evolution for the divergence of amniote pallial structures.

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