Developmental Plasticity: To Preserve the Individual or to Create a New Species?

  1. Gregory R. Bock and
  2. Gail Cardew
  1. Egbert Welker

Published Online: 29 APR 2008

DOI: 10.1002/0470846631.ch15

Evolutionary Developmental Biology of the Cerebral Cortex: Novartis Foundation Symposium 228

Evolutionary Developmental Biology of the Cerebral Cortex: Novartis Foundation Symposium 228

How to Cite

Welker, E. (2000) Developmental Plasticity: To Preserve the Individual or to Create a New Species?, in Evolutionary Developmental Biology of the Cerebral Cortex: Novartis Foundation Symposium 228 (eds G. R. Bock and G. Cardew), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/0470846631.ch15

Author Information

  1. Institut de Biologie Cellulaire et de Morphologie, Université de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 29 APR 2008
  2. Published Print: 22 MAY 2000

Book Series:

  1. Novartis Foundation Symposia

Book Series Editors:

  1. Novartis Foundation

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780471979784

Online ISBN: 9780470846636

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Keywords:

  • development;
  • plasticity;
  • cerebral cortex;
  • organization;
  • whisker follicles;
  • mouse;
  • barrels;
  • barrelless

Summary

The cerebral cortex has an amazing capacity to adjust its organization in response to perturbations of its normal development. This developmental plasticity can be considered to have, as its ultimate goal, the preservation of an ‘intact’ individual, capable of integrating sensory information to generate an adequate behavioural response. The mechanisms underlying developmental plasticity, however, can also be considered of importance to generate variability among individuals of the same species and, as such, create the platform for evolution to occur. Here three experiments are described that alter the configuration of the somatosensory cortex of the mouse. The first is based on the removal of whisker follicles neonatally and demonstrates that the formation of barrels is dependent of the presence of follicles. The second is based on results of selective inbreeding for the number of sensory organs (whisker follicles) and illustrates the strong tendency during the period of developmental plasticity to preserve the internal organization of the cerebral cortex. The third experiment is based on a mutation that affects the formation of barrels and, as a consequence, alters cortical processing of sensory information. This mutation can be considered to have resulted in an evolutionary deviation.