The evolution of distributed association networks in the human brain.

Bibliographic Collection: 
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Buckner, Randy L; Krienen, Fenna M
Year of Publication: 2013
Journal: Trends Cogn Sci
Volume: 17
Issue: 12
Pagination: 648-65
Date Published: 2013 Dec
Publication Language: eng
ISSN: 1879-307X
Keywords: Animals, Biological Evolution, Brain, Brain Mapping, Cognition, Humans, Neural Pathways

The human cerebral cortex is vastly expanded relative to other primates and disproportionately occupied by distributed association regions. Here we offer a hypothesis about how association networks evolved their prominence and came to possess circuit properties vital to human cognition. The rapid expansion of the cortical mantle may have untethered large portions of the cortex from strong constraints of molecular gradients and early activity cascades that lead to sensory hierarchies. What fill the gaps between these hierarchies are densely interconnected networks that widely span the cortex and mature late into development. Limitations of the tethering hypothesis are discussed as well as its broad implications for understanding critical features of the human brain as a byproduct of size scaling.

DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2013.09.017
Alternate Journal: Trends Cogn. Sci. (Regul. Ed.)