Gregg Recanzone : Cortical plasticity throughout adulthood: Implications on the evolution of the nervous system at the ‘nanosecond’ scale.

Friday, 4 September, 2015 - 11:30 to 13:00
Center for Neuroscience and Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior.University of California at Davis, Davis, CA USA
During development, the basic neural architecture and connections are formed, giving rise to the fully developed adult nervous system.  Throughout the rest of life, these anatomical connections are largely unchanged, yet the functional connections show flexibility to allow for the acquisition and degradation of different skills and behaviors. This adult plasticity has been well established over the past several decades, and could play a major role not only on the behaviors of individual animals but also across the population of species as new evolutionary pressures are applied, for example climate changes or the evolution of different predator and prey species.  
My talk will overview several examples from the somatosensory and auditory systems that demonstrate how individual idiosyncracies could potentially translate to changes across species.  I will also draw from the cortical mechanisms of sound localization to illustrate how complex stimuli could potentially be encoded in non-topographic cortical areas, such as those that subserve higher cognitive function in humans.  Finally, new evidence will be presented on how natural aging can strongly, and negatively, affect this processing and the subsequent perceptual consequences that arise as a result.