The neocortex is one of the most distinctive structures of the mammalian brain, yet also one of the most varied in terms of both size and organization. Multiple processes have contributed to this variability including evolutionary mechanisms (i.e., changes in gene sequence) that alter the size, organization and connections of the neocortex, and activity-dependent mechanisms that can also modify these same features over shorter time scales. Because the neocortex does not develop or evolve in a vacuum, when considering how different cortical phenotypes emerge within a species and across species, it is also important to consider alterations to the body, to behavior, and the environment in which an individual develops. Thus, changes to the neocortex can arise via different mechanisms, and over multiple time scales. Brains can change across large, evolutionary time scales of thousands to millions of years; across shorter time scales such as generations; and across the life of an individual – day-by-day, within hours, minutes and even on a time scale of a second. The combination of genetic and activity-dependent mechanisms that create a given cortical phenotype allows the mammalian neocortex to rapidly and flexibly adjust to different body and environmental contexts, and in humans permits culture to impact brain construction during development.
Those wishing to meet the speaker should contact Gordon Petty at [email protected] in the Bruno Lab
The Columbia Neuroscience Seminar series is a collaborative effort of Columbia's Zuckerman Institute, the Department of Neuroscience, the Doctoral Program in Neurobiology and Behavior and the Columbia Translational Neuroscience Initiative, and with support from the Kavli Institute for Brain Science.