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J Neurosci. 1994 Apr;14(4):2418-27.

Component placement optimization in the brain.

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Department of Philosophy, University of Maryland, College Park 20742.


This computational neuroanatomy study evaluates how well some formalisms derived from combinatorial network optimization theory fit as models for brain structure. At multiple hierarchical levels--brain, ganglion, individual cell--physical placement of neural components appears consistent with a single, simple goal: minimize cost of connections among the components. The most dramatic instance of this "save wire" organizing principle is reported for adjacencies among ganglia in the nematode nervous system; among about 40,000,000 alternative layout orderings, the actual ganglion placement in fact requires the least total connection length. In addition, evidence supports a component placement optimization hypothesis for positioning of individual neurons in the nematode, and also for positioning of mammalian cortical areas.

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