Homology in NeuroEthology

Venue: Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown

Hosts: Alex Gomez-Marin (Champalimaud)


Importing the concept of homology from evolutionary biology

Neural structure – deep homology between arthropods & vertebrates

Neural function – visual physiology modulation by behavioral state: monkeys, mice & flies

A mobility gradient in the organization of movement: rats, mice, wolfs, badgers & flies

Locomotor primitives in cats, rats & human toddlers

The aim of the course is to explore the notion of homology in biology, in particular, in neural structure and neural function and in animal behavior. In the case of anatomy, drawing homologies across taxa allows to substantiate the universality of particular forms. For instance, we can certainly speak about the femur of a frog and the femur of a mammoth, and it is not mere similarity in shape or pure convention that allows us to draw such useful and insightful relationships. Building from genetics, developmental and evolutionary biology, we will explore whether, why and how it makes sense to call two circuits homologous, a computation canonical, or a behavior primitive. We ultimately search for neural and behavioral universals amid the fascinating biological multiplicity.

Thus, our efforts will be towards providing a forum for cross-talk between experts (in a language and atmosphere that is fruitful for students and non-expert scientists too) in different fields to critically evaluate some of the commonly held perspectives on the plausibility of establishing similarities, analogies and homologies in neuroscience.

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