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Cell. 2017 Jul 13;170(2):226-247. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2017.06.036.

Evolution of the Human Nervous System Function, Structure, and Development.

Author information

1
Department of Neuroscience, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA.
2
Department of Neuroscience, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA; Department of Genetics, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA; Department of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA; Section of Comparative Medicine, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA; Program in Cellular Neuroscience, Neurodegeneration and Repair, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA; Yale Child Study Center, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA; Kavli Institute for Neuroscience, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA. Electronic address: nenad.sestan@yale.edu.

Abstract

The nervous system-in particular, the brain and its cognitive abilities-is among humans' most distinctive and impressive attributes. How the nervous system has changed in the human lineage and how it differs from that of closely related primates is not well understood. Here, we consider recent comparative analyses of extant species that are uncovering new evidence for evolutionary changes in the size and the number of neurons in the human nervous system, as well as the cellular and molecular reorganization of its neural circuits. We also discuss the developmental mechanisms and underlying genetic and molecular changes that generate these structural and functional differences. As relevant new information and tools materialize at an unprecedented pace, the field is now ripe for systematic and functionally relevant studies of the development and evolution of human nervous system specializations.

PMID:
28708995
PMCID:
PMC5647789
DOI:
10.1016/j.cell.2017.06.036
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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