Homology versus convergence in resolving transphyletic correspondences of brain organization

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27 Scopus citations


Due to the largely absent fossil record, phylogenetic comparisons of brain structures rely on the analysis of nervous systems in extant taxa, many of which appear to have distinctive and dissimilar neural arrangements. The use of a multitude of comparative criteria, including developmental genetics, phylogenomics and neural circuit architecture, has recently resolved a highly conserved structural and functional ground pattern organization in the arthropod central complex and vertebrate basal ganglia. The minuteness of resemblance is exemplified by orthologous action selection circuits that are formed by homologous gene networks and which can lead to similar pathologies and behavioral disorders. It has been argued, however, that these similarities of brain centers can only be due to convergent evolution. What is still missing is a plausible scenario to explain how convergence could result in such a multitude of similarities and minuteness of resemblances, including gene expression, functional attributes and pathologies. In contrast, homology by common descent is the more parsimonious explanation. Moreover, the divergent elaboration of arthropod central complex and vertebrate basal ganglia does not obscure their shared ground pattern organization and thus genealogical correspondence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-219
Number of pages5
JournalBrain, Behavior and Evolution
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • Arthropods
  • Basal ganglia
  • Brain evolution
  • Central complex
  • Convergence
  • Homology
  • Vertebrate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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