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Modeling spontaneous activity across an excitable epithelium: support for a coordination scenario of early neural evolution
BMC Neuroscience volume 16, Article number: P120 (2015)
The reason why nervous systems first arose is an open question. Internal coordination models hold that nervous systems evolved initially as a device to coordinate internal activity, enabling multicellular effectors. They stress the use of multicellular contractility as an effector for motility: some sort of coordinative structure would have been necessary to have multicellular effectors in the first place. A recent example of such a model, the skin brain thesis, suggests that excitable epithelia using chemical signaling are a potential candidate as a nervous system precursor.
We developed a computational model and a measure for whole body coordination to investigate the coordinative properties of such excitable epithelia. Using this measure we show that excitable epithelia can spontaneously exhibit body-scale patterns of activation (see Figure 1.). Relevant factors determining the extent of patterning are the noise level for exocytosis, relative body dimensions, and body size. In smaller bodies whole-body coordination emerges from cellular excitability and bidirectional excitatory transmission alone.
Our results show that basic internal coordination as proposed by the skin brain thesis could have arisen in this potential nervous system precursor, providing support that this configuration may have played a role as a proto-neural system and requires further investigation.
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de Wiljes, O.O., van Elburg, R.A., Biehl, M. et al. Modeling spontaneous activity across an excitable epithelium: support for a coordination scenario of early neural evolution. BMC Neurosci 16, P120 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2202-16-S1-P120
- Noise Level
- Relevant Factor
- Spontaneous Activity
- Small Body
- Chemical Signaling