Neural Darwinism: The Theory of Neuronal Group Selection

By Gerald M. Edelman | Go to book overview

5
Cellular Dynamics
of Neural Maps

Constancy versus variation in anatomy, an apparent paradox 105 · The importance of maps 106 · General properties of maps 108 · Cellular properties constraining map development 110 · Experimental evidence for independent primary processes in neural patterning 111 · Competition for targets 116 · Model for neuronal pathfinding based on the regulator hypothesis 118 · The retinotectal map 121 · The multilevel control of map formation 124 · The unexpected plasticity of adult maps 126 · The competition for representation 129 · Spread and overlap of axonal and dendritic arbors 133 · Some apparent exceptions: maps that are plastic only in critical periods 136


INTRODUCTION

In previous chapters, evidence has been presented stressing the bases of variability in neuronal structure, function, and development. However, even the compelling molecular and cellular evidence reviewed in chapter 4 does not fully address a body of facts pointing to the constancy of neuroanatomy -- facts that might tempt us to reach conclusions contrary to those of the molecular evidence. From the standpoint of neuroanatomy, at least at one scale of magnification, the striking feature of brains is order and specificity ( Brodal 1981), not variability. How, for example, can we reconcile the existence of anatomical and functional maps in a structure like the cerebral cortex, which shows elaborate

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