Volume 10 Issue 10, October 2009
From The Editors
The origin and evolution of synapses
Tracing the phylogeny of the molecular components of synapses, Ryan and Grant speculate on the core components of the last common ancestor of all synapses and posit that the diversification of upstream signalling components contributed to increased signalling complexity later in evolution.
Considering the evolution of regeneration in the central nervous system
What allows some species, but not others, to regenerate their nervous system? In this Review, the authors compare CNS regeneration among vertebrates looking for clues that might explain how this ability might have emerged or been restricted through evolution.
Evolution of the neocortex: a perspective from developmental biology
Focusing on mammalian species, Pasko Rakic uses evo–devo studies to model how gene mutations may have affected neuron number and neuronal migration, which in turn may have contributed to the species-specific expansion and elaboration of the cerebral cortex.
Chordate roots of the vertebrate nervous system: expanding the molecular toolkit
By comparing developmental gene expression and neuroanatomy of vertebrates and the basal chordate amphioxus, Linda Holland sheds light on the molecular changes that may have facilitated the evolution of the vertebrate brain.
Sleep viewed as a state of adaptive inactivity
In this provocative Perspective, Jerry Siegel shows that many aspects of sleep differ greatly between species and conditions, such that a universal, vital function of sleep is unlikely. He argues that sleep benefits animals simply by increasing the efficiency of their activity.
MicroRNAs tell an evo–devo story
MicroRNAs have crucial regulatory roles at the post-transcriptional level and are emerging as key players in the development of the nervous system in many species. In this Opinion article, Kosik discusses how these non-coding transcripts could drive evolutionary change.
Evolutionary biology seeks to reconstruct the ancestral relationship among organisms and the pathways that led to the enormous variety of biological forms. This focus issue of Nature Reviews Neurosciencecelebrates the bicentenary of Charles Darwin's birth and the publication of On the Origin of Species 150 years ago. The articles in this special issue discuss the molecular, cellular and structural changes that have contributed to CNS evolution and the functional consequences of these changes.