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Trends Neurosci. 1995 Dec;18(12):522-7.

Neural component placement.

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Committee on History and Philosophy of Science, University of Maryland, College Park 20742, USA.


A range of neuroanatomical results supports the idea that 'save wire' is an organizing principle of brain structure: that the theory of combinatorial optimization of networks applies to the anatomy of the nervous system. In particular, optimization of the placement of components operates at several hierarchical levels in the nervous system, from gross to microscopic anatomy, and from invertebrates to primates. That is, when anatomical positioning of interconnected neural components is treated like a problem of wire minimization in microchip layout, a hypothesis of 'best of all possible brains' is consistent with the observed siting of brains, ganglia, and even somata of individual neurons that minimizes the length of interconnections. In the case of the positioning of ganglia of Caenorhabditis elegans, optimization predictions of one-in-a-million precision can be verified.

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