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Brain Res Bull. 2005 Sep 15;66(4-6):282-9.

Establishing order at the systems level in mammalian brain evolution.

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  • 1School of Anatomical Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Parktown, Johannesburg, Republic of South Africa.


The present paper presents a new view of mammalian brain evolution based upon the finding of a level of neural organization at which phylogenetic constraints appear to play a channeling role. It is proposed that the subdivisions of a neural system exhibit the same complement (i.e. the same number of homologous subdivisions) within all species of a particular mammalian order, irrespective of the brain size, phenotype or life history. Specific examples from monotremes, cetaceans, rodents, carnivores and primates are given to provide an empirical basis for the presented hypothesis. The conclusion reached is that the presented evolutionary pattern shows a far higher relative frequency of occurrence than do other potential evolutionary explanations of systems level evolution in the mammalian nervous system.

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