Research Topic

Brain Evolution: Clues from Aquatic Organisms

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About this Research Topic

This Research Topic is proposed to gain insight into the evolution of brain structure, function, and physiology by exploring the neuroanatomy and neurophysiology of aquatic organisms. It aims to collect more information on 1) the evolution of brain structures and the interpretation of their functional ...

This Research Topic is proposed to gain insight into the evolution of brain structure, function, and physiology by exploring the neuroanatomy and neurophysiology of aquatic organisms. It aims to collect more information on 1) the evolution of brain structures and the interpretation of their functional significance, 2) the origin of diseases and the evolution of healing processes, and 3) to expand knowledge about the fundamental mechanisms of the nervous system.

Aquatic organisms, either vertebrates or invertebrates, living in marine or freshwater environments, show considerable variation in the organization of their central nervous system, which correlates with an evolutionary adaptation to their habitat. Also, they have proved to be exceptional models to unravel morphological, cellular and basic molecular aspects of the nervous system organization and physiology.

Cephalopods are organisms with elaborate brains that underwent through dramatic cephalization and are the most evolved among invertebrate nervous system. Their neuroanatomical features facilitating physiological studies (e.g., squid giant axons and synapses) contributed massively to current knowledge of neurotransmission mechanisms, and yet, they show fantastic potential as models to study epigenetic plasticity, neuronal regeneration, learning, and cellular mechanisms of memory (e.g., long-term potentiation).

Fish are currently powerful models in neuroscience to investigate fundamental brain mechanisms, thanks to the basic neuroanatomical organization and neurotransmitter systems typical of a vertebrate, and the availability of genetics toolsets which can be utilized, along with other methods, such as pharmacological tools and drugs.

Cetaceans show the typical mammalian bauplan and are as complicated morphologically as other mammalian groups. As their brain morphology and physiology underwent profound modifications during 50 million years of separate evolution in the aquatic environment, cetaceans are not only fascinating organisms but a tremendous source of discovery.

Comparative and functional neuroanatomists, evolutionary neuroscientists, and any researcher in neuroscience studying Cephalopods, Fish and Cetaceans are welcome and encouraged to submit their work; original studies, reviews, opinion papers or perspectives.


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