Major transitions in cortical circuit evolution
Fred Wolf | Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization, and University of Göttingen, Germany
Agostina Palmigiano | Columbia University, USA
Neuronal circuits of the cerebral cortex underlie our abilities to perceive and recognize objects, form an internal model of dynamic environments, make decisions and plan and execute complex actions. Although these functions and abilities appear universal, the design even of simple sensory cortical circuits, surprisingly, was repeatedly disrupted by major evolutionary transformations. Recent work has uncovered that the ancestral state of primary visual cortex neither exhibited localized receptive fields nor retinotopic order (1) and that mammalian V1 underwent an all-or-nothing transition at the origin of primates (2). Exciting discoveries in the paleontology and paleobiology of the mammalian brain indicate that cortical circuit evolution has been punctuated by coordinated encephalization bursts (3) in distinct lineages, potentially reflecting key innovations in visual processing strategy (4). The challenge of understanding and reconstructing such transitions adds a novel dimension to the quest of decoding the principles of cortical processing and design.
The workshop “Major transitions in cortical circuit evolution” will bring together leading researchers that pioneered next-generation comparative studies, use predictive and data-driven modelling to identify mode-shifts in visual cortical processing and reconstruct the evolutionary trajectory of cortical evolution. Our workshop is designed to make recent advances and open challenges accessible to a wide audience in computational and systems neuroscience and foster a new wave of theoretical and comparative work in cortical circuit evolution.