Evolution of Dynamic Coordination

What insights does comparative biology provide for furthering scienti¿ c understanding of the evolution of dynamic coordination? Our discussions covered three major themes: (a) the fundamental unity in functional aspects of neurons, neural circuits, and neural computations across the animal kingdom; (b) brain organization –behavior relationships across animal taxa; and (c) the need for broadly comparative studies of the relationship of neural structures, neural functions, and behavioral coordination. Below we present an overview of neural machinery and computations that are shared by all nervous systems across the animal kingdom, and the related fact that there really are no “simple” relationships in coordination between nervous systems and the behavior they produce. The simplest relationships seen in living organisms are already fairly complex by computational standards. These realizations led us to think about ways that brain similarities and differences could be used to produce new insights into complex brain–behavior phenomena (including a critical appraisal of the roles of cortical and noncortical structures in mammalian behavior), and to think brieÀy about how future studies could best exploit comparative methods to elucidate better general principles underlying the neural mechanisms associated with behavioral coordination. In our view, it is unlikely that the intricacies interrelating neural and behavioral coordination are due to one particular manifestation (such as neural oscillation or the possession of a six-layered cortex). Instead of considering the human cortex to be the standard against which all things are measured (and thus something to crow about), both broad and focused comparative studies on behavioral similarities and differences will be necessary to elucidate the fundamental principles underlying dynamic coordination.
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