Form and Function in Neurobiology

  • S. Firestein
Conference paper
Part of the Astrophysics and Space Science Library book series (ASSL, volume 144)


A common strategy in modern neurobiology is to study aspects of nervous function in simpler animals whose nervous systems are less complex than our own and are thus more approachable. The unequivocal success of this strategy suggests that nervous tissue is more alike than it is dissimilar across the phyla. In particular the building blocks of nervous systems are seen to be remarkably similar and the functional differences from simple to complex nervous systems are the result of elaborations on the basics rather than of fundamental differences. Neural tissue possesses a kind of equipotentiality and may be capable of undergoing “elaborations” towards more complex forms without requiring qualitative changes. While this line of reasoning does not demonstrate that highly developed mental abilities may arise in forms other then the human it does suggest that it is not unreasonable to consider such development as possible.


Nerve Cell Nervous Tissue Squid Giant Axon Retinal Axon High Order Learning 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Firestein
    • 1
  1. 1.Graduate Group in NeurobiologyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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