Scientists Test Hypothesis on Evolution of Neural Circuits and Behavior

Scientists Test Hypothesis on Evolution of Neural Circuits and Behavior

Neural Circuits

Scientists at the Georgia State University have successfully managed to restructure the neural circuit of a species by installing connections of another species. This progress is expected to go a long way towards achieving the hypothesis about the evolution of neural circuits, which are connected in a network and are responsible for behavior.

Different Brain Mechanism Trigger Same Behavior in Similar Species

According to Dr. Paul Katz and Akira Sakurai of Georgia State’s Neuroscience Institute, who have been studying the brains of sea slugs (specifically nudibranchs) as they have relatively simpler circuits for common behaviors, have detected that brains of two distinct species (a giant nudibranch and a hooded nudibranch) have same neurons, although the wiring network was different. The researchers were able to disable a few connections in the giant nudibranch via curare, preventing the brain from producing the pattern of impulses pertaining to swimming.

Thereafter, electrodes were inserted into the neurons in order to create a connection similar to hooded nudibranch between the brain cells of the giant nudibranch. The brain of the giant nudibranch was able to create an alternate rhythmic activity that relates with swimming behavior, showing that two species produce distinct brain mechanism for same purposes.

Evolution of Microcircuitry to Define Behavioral Patterns

In accordance to previous studies, this study reiterates that homologous behavior may be common between different species of sea slugs but neural mechanisms differs significantly. This study shows that as the evolution unfolds, behaviors may be conserved, even though basic neural network changes. Moreover, this study underscores that neurons are conserved.