The Ancestry of Reason – updates

The Ancestry of Reason Updates

Relevant or particularly interesting stuff published since the book went to press



Curr. Biol.   Current Biology

J. Comp. Neurol.  Journal of Comparative Neuroscience

Nat. Neurosci.   Nature Neuroscience

Nat. Rev. Neurosci.   Nature Reviews: Neuroscience

PNAS   Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

TICS   Trends in Cognitive Sciences

TINS   Trends in Neurosciences


Chapter 4:  From Earliest Animals to Homo Sapiens – a Quick Sketch

A. S. Brooks et al.   Long-distance stone transport and pigment use in the earliest Middle Stone Age  Science  Vol. 360 p.90  6 April 2018

R. L. Holloway et al.   Endocast morphology of Homo naledi from the Dinaledi Chamber, South Africa   PNAS  Vol. 115  p.5738  29 May 2018  (Clues about the brain of a small hominid discovered fairly recently.)

E. Pennisi   The power of many   Science Vol. 360 p.1388  29 June 2018  (The transition to multicellularity may have been less complicated, and occurred more often, than once thought.)

H. Pontzer   Economy and Endurance in Human Evolution   Curr. Biol.  Vol. 27 R613  19 June 2017

P. S. Ungar   Evolution’s Bite: A Story of Teeth, Diet and Human Origins  Princeton University Press 2017

T. D. Wyatt   Pheromones  Curr. Biol. Vol. 27 R739  7 August 2017


Chapter 5:  An Introduction to Neurons and Nervous Systems

J. M. Martin-Duran et al.   Convergent evolution of bilaterian nerve cords   Nature  Vol. 553  p.45  4 January 2018

C. Ortiz-Ramirez et al.  GLUTAMATE RECEPTOR-LIKE channels are essential for chemotaxis and reproduction in mosses  Nature Vol. 549 p.91  7 September 2017


Chapter 6:  The Basic Mechanisms of Vision

J. A. Hirsch et al.   How Inhibitory Circuits in the Thalamus Serve Vision  Ann. Rev. Neurosci.  Vol. 38  p.309  2015

K. Roy, S. Kumar & S. A. Bloomfield   Gap junctional coupling between retinal amacrine and ganglion cells underlies coherent activity integral to global object preception   PNAS  Vol. 114 E10484  28 November 2017

M. Weigand, F. Sartori & H. Cuntz   Universal transition from unstructured to structured neural maps  PNAS  Vol. 114 E4057  16 May 2017   (In carnivores and ungulates but not in rats neurons with similar orientation preferences cluster together in primary visual cortex, as in primates.)


Chapter 8:  Creating the Conscious Visual Moment

M. Boi et al.   Consequences of the Oculomotor Cycle for the Dynamics of Perception  Curr. Biol. Vol. 27 p.1268  8 May 2017  (Michele Rucci and his team continue to explore how the eye’s constant drifts and microsaccades promote efficient interpretation of visual input.)

S. L. Brincat et al.  Gradual progression from sensory to task-related processing in cerebral cortex  PNAS Vol. 115 E7202  24 July 2018

B. van Vugt et al.   The threshold for conscious report: Signal loss and response bias in visual and frontal cortex  Science  Vol. 360 p.537  4 May 2018 


Chapter 13:  Social Lifestyles

I. G. Kulahci, A. A. Ghazanfar & D. I. Rubenstein   Knowledgeable Lemurs Become More Central in Social Networks  Curr. Biol.  Vol. 28 p.1306  23 April 2013  (Even among lemurs useful knowledge brings kudos.)


Chapter 14:  Attention

K. J. P. Woods & J. H. McDermott   Schema learning for the cocktail party problem  PNAS  Vol. 115 E3313  3 April 2018


Chapter 15:  The Neurology of Movement

J. Alves de Silva et al.   Dopamine activity before action initiation gates and invigorates future movements   Nature  Vol. 554 p.244 8 February 2018

V. Caggiano et al.   Midbrain circuits that set locomotor speed and gait selection   Nature  Vol. 553 p.455  25 January 2018   (This and the paper by Capelli, below, demonstrate that different locomotor centres do indeed govern slightly different forms of locomotion, tho’ not quite in the way I guessed – and that there are probably more than two such centres.)

P. Capelli et al.   Locomotor speed control circuits in the caudal brainstem  Nature  Vol. 551 p.373  16 November 2017

M. N. Economo et al.   Distinct descending motor cortex pathways and their roles in movement   Nature Vol. 563 p.79  1 November 2018 

Z. Gao et al.  A cortico-cerebellar loop for motor planning  Nature Vol. 563 p.113  1 November 2018

T. Takei et al.  Neural basis for hand muscle synergies in the primate spinal cord  PNAS Vol. 114 p.8643  8 August 2017   (Some insight into how old and new spinal pathways work together.)


Chapter 16:  The Neurology of Attention

D. A. Christakis et al.   How early media exposure may affect cognitive function: A review of results from observations in humans and experiments in mice  PNAS Vol. 115 p.9851  2 October 2018

V. Minces et al.   Cholinergic shaping of neural correlations  PNAS  Vol. 114 p.5725  30 May 2017

T. van Kerkoerle, M. W. Self & P. R. Roelfsema   Layer-specificity in the effects of attention and working memory on activity in primary visual cortex   Nature Communications  10.1038.ncomms/3804  2017    (Clarifies the way bottom-up and top-down signals are co-ordinated.)

M. R. Uncapher & A. D. Wagner   Minds and brains of media multitaskers: Current findings and future directions  PNAS Vol. 115 p.9889  2October 2018

E. M. Vazey, D. E. Moorman & G. Aston-Jones   Phasic locus coeruleus activity regulates cortical encoding of salience information   PNAS Vol. 115 pE9439  2 October 2018

David Weinshenken   Long Road to Ruin:  Noradrenergic Dysfuntion in Neurodegenerative Disease  TINS  Vol. 44 p.211  April 2018


Chapter 17:  The Neurology of Reward

A. Bendensky et al.   The genetic basis of parental care evolution in monogamous mice   Nature  Vol. 544  p.434  27 April 2017

D. Hoops & C. Flores   Making Dopamine Connections in Adolescence   TINs  Vol. 40 p.709  December 2017   (A reason why taking addictive drugs in adolescence is a particularly bad idea.)

J. LeDoux & R. Brown   A higher-order theory of emotional consciousness  PNAS  Vol. 114  E2016  3 August 2017

N. Marsh et al.  Oxytocin-enforced norm compliance reduces xenophobic outgroup rejection  PNAS Vol. 114 p.9314  29 August 2017

S. R. Santacruz et al.   Caudate Microstimulation Increases Value of Specific Choices  Curr. Biol. Vol. 27 p3375  6 November 2017

S. A. Schelp et al.   A transient dopamine signal encodes subjective value and causally influences demand in an economic context   PNAS Vol. 114 E11303  26 December 2017


Chapter 18:  Learning

K. T. Beier et al.  Rabies screen reveals GPe control of cocaine-triggered plasticity  Nature  Vol. 549 p.345  21 September 2017

T. Kitamura et al.  Engrams and circuits crucial for systems consolidation of a memory  Science Vol. 356 p.73  7 April 2017

A. J. Peters et al.  Reorganization of corticospinal output during motor learning  Nat.Neurosci.  Vol. 20 p.113 August 2017

B. T. Saunders et al.  Dopamine neurons create Pavlovian conditioned stimuli with cirtcuit-defined motivational properties  Nat. Neurosci  Vol. 21 p.1072  2018


Chapter 19:  Contextual and Episodic Memory

A. S. Alexander & D. A. Nitz  Specifically periodic activation patterns of retrosplenial cortex encode route sub-spaces and distance travelled  Curr. Biol.  Vol. 27  p.1551  2017

A. Banino et al.   Vector-based navigation using grid-like representations in artificial agents   Nature Vol.557 p.429  17 May 2018  (A computer network mastered the art of navigation around a modest arena.)

G. R. I. Barker et al.   Separate elements of episodic memory subserved by distinct hippocampal-prefrontal connections  Nat. Neurosci.  Vol. 20  p.242  February 2017

M. F. Bonner & R. A. Epstein  Coding of navigational affordances in the human visual system  PNAS Vol. 114 p.4793  2 May 2017

M. G. Campbell et al.  Principles governing the integration of landmark and self-motion cues in entorhinal cortical codes for navigation  Nat. Neurosci. Vol. 21 p.1096  2018

X. Chen et al.  Flexible egocentric and allocentric representations of heading signals in parietal cortex  PNAS  Vol. 115 E3305  3 April 2018

P.-Y. Jacob et al.  An independent, land-mark-dominated head direction signal in dysgranular retrosplenial cortex   Nat. Neurosci. Vol. 20 p.173  January 2017

C. E. Connor & J. J. Knierim   Integration of objects and space in perception and memory  Nat. Neurosci. Vol. 20 p.1493  November 2017  (One of the articles in a special issue focussed on spatial cognition.)

A. Kereszies et al.   Hippocampal maturity promotes memory distinctiveness in childhood and adolescence  PNAS Vol. 114 p.9212  22 August 2017

M. Nau, J. B. Julian & C. F. Doeller   How the Brain’s Navigation System Shapes Our Visual Experience  TICS Vol. 22 p.810  September 2018

H. Norimoto et al.   Hippocampal ripples down-regulate synapses  Science Vol. 359 p.1524  30 March 2018   (Sharp-wave ripples during slow-wave sleep trigger long-lasting synaptic depression.)

J. M. Olson, K. Tongprasearth & D. A. Nitz   Subiculum neurons map the current axis of travel   Nat. Neurosci.  Vol. 20 p.170  January 2017

V. Santangelo et al.  Enhanced brain activity associated with memory access in highly superior autobiographical memory  PNAS Vol. 115 p.7795  24 July 2018  (Exceptionally detailed recollection of autobiographical memories went with strong activity in medial prefrontal cortex and strong connectivity between prefrontal and hippocampus.)

A. Sellami et al.   Temporal binding function of dorsal CA1 is critical for declarative memory formation  PNAS Vol. 114 p.10252  19 September 2017

R. F. Stevenson et al.   Hippocampal CA1 gamma power predicts the precision of spatial memory judgements  PNAS Vol. 115 p.10148  2 October 2018

K. Z. Tanaka et al.   The hippocampal engram maps experience but not place  Science  Vol. 361 p.392  27 July 2018   (Neuroscientists often seem to argue for either/or answers to questions that can happily accommodate both possibilities.)

A. Wagatsuma et al.  Locus coeruleus input to hippocampal CA3 drives single-trial learning of a novel context   PNAS Vol. 115 E310  9 January 2018

T. Wernle et al.  Integration of grid maps in merged environments  Nat. Neurosci. Vol. 21 p92  January 2018


Chapter 20:  Sleep, Dreams and Memory

J. Durkin et al.  Cortically coordinated NREM thalamocortical oscillations play an essential instructive role in visual system plasticity   PNAS  Vol. 114  p.10485  26 September 2017

K. Liu et al.   Lhx6-positive GABA-releasing neurons of the zona incerta promote sleep   Nature  Vol. 548  p.582  31 August 2017  (The zona incerta gets a little less mysterious.)

K. M. Swift et al.  Abnormal Locus Coeruleus Sleep Activity Alters Sleep Signatures of Memory Consolidation and Impairs Place Cell Stability and Spatial Memory  Curr. Biol.  Vol. 28 p.3599  19 November 2018   (An activity associated with attention in waking life interferes with memory consolidation during sleep.)


Chapter 21:  The Long-term Memory Store

M.J. Arcaro et al.   Seeing faces is necessary for face-domain formation  Nat. Neurosci.  Vol. 20 p.1404  October 2017   (Or perhaps that should be experiencing faces – see van den Hurk et al. below.)

L. Chang & D. Y. Tsao   The Code for Facial Identity in the Primate Brain  Cell  Vol. 169 p.1013  1 June 2017

T. R. Jonker et al.   Neural reactivation in parietal cortex enhances memory for episodically linked information   PNAS Vol. 115  p.11084  23 October 2018

S. M. Landi & W. A. Freiwald   Two areas for familiar face recognition in the primate brain   Science  Vol. 357  p.591  11 August 2017  (Two additional face-sensitive areas have been found in the temporal cortex of rhesus monkeys.  One seems particularly important to registering familiar faces.)

N. A. R. Murty & S. P. Arun   Multiplicative mixing of object identity and image attributes in single inferior temporal neurons   PNAS Vol. 115 E3276  3 April 2018

E. Striem-Amit, G. Vannuscorps & A. Caramazza   Plasticity based on compensatory effector use in the association but not primary sensorimotor cortex of people born without hands   PNAS Vol. 115 p.7801  24 July 2018

J. Taubert et al.   Amygdala lesions eliminate viewing preferences for faces in rhesus monkeys   PNAS Vol. 115 p.8043  31 July 2018

J. van den Hurk, M. van Baelen & H. O. Op de Beeck   Development of visual category selectivity in ventral visual cortex does not require visual experience  PNAS Vol. 114 E4501  30 May 2017  (Faces, bodies and landmarks are filed in much the same temporal areas in those born blind as in the sighted, confirming that it’s not the sensory channel through which data is obtained that determines how  information is stored.)

Y. Wang et al.  Dynamic neural architecture for social knowledge retrieval  PNAS Vol. 114  E3305  18 April 2017   (An area in anterior temporal cortex knits together appearance, name and other aspects of an individual.)


Chapter 22:  Where the Thinking’s Done

C. J. Donahue et al.   Quantitative assessment of prefrontal cortex in humans relative to nonhuman primates   PNAS Vol. 115 E5183  29 May 2018  (The latest volley in this argument:  human prefrontal cortex, as defined here, is disproportionately larger than that of chimpanzees – especially the white matter part.)

A. Ghazizadeh et al.   Temporal-prefrontal cortical network for discrimination of valuable objects in long-term memory   PNAS Vol. 115 E 2135  27 February 2018

F. A. Mansouri et al.   Managing competing signals –  key role for the frontopolar cortex   Nat. Rev. Neurosci. Vol. 18 p.645 November 2017


Chapter 23:  More About the Basal Ganglia

J. N.Constantino  Infant viewing of social scenes is under genetic control and is atypical in autism  Nature  Vol. 547 p.340  20 July 2017

A. Hahamy et al.  Representations of multiple body parts in the missing hand territory of congenital one-handers  Curr. Biol.  Vol. 27 p.1350  8 May 2017  (Evidence that the layout of motor cortex can be influenced by the purpose of actions.)

L. J. Powell, H. L. Kosakowski & R. Saxe   Social Origins of Cortical Face Areas  TICS Vol. 22 p.752 September 2018   (Another likely hypothesis about how cortical schema areas  come about.)


Chapter 24:  Some Guesswork About the Thalamus

L. Acsady   The Thalamic Paradox   Nat. Neurosci.  Vol. 20 p.901  July 2017  (A valuable update on the thalamus.)

S. S. Bolkan et al.  Thalamic projections sustain prefrontal activity during working memory performance  Nat. Neurosci. Vol. 20 p.987  July 2017

M. M. Hakassa & S. Kastner  Thalamic functions in distributed cognitive control  Nat. Neurosci.  Vol. 20 p.1669  December 2017

I-C Mundinano et al.  Transient visual pathway critical for normal development of primate grasping behavior   PNAS Vol. 115 p.1364  6 February 2018

G. Pergola et al.  The Regulatory Role of the Human Mediodorsal Thalamus  TICS  Vol. 22 p.1011 November 2018

R. P. Vertes, S. B. Linley & W. B. Hoover    Limbic Circuitry of the midline thalamus   Neuroscience and Biobehavi0ral Reviews  Vol. 54  p.89  July 2015


Chapter 25:   Overview

A. C. Bostan & P. L. Strick   The basal ganglia and the cerebellum: nodes in an integrated network  Nat. Rev. Neurosci.  Vol. 19 p.338  April 2018   (Cerebellum and basal ganglia are connected at the subcortical level.)

M. J. Wagner et al.   Cerebellar granule cells encode the expectation of reward  Nature Vol. 544 p.96  6 April 2017   


Chapter 26:   Some Pivotal Innovations

E. Boldog et al.   Transcriptomic and morphological evidence for a specialized human cortical GABAergic cell type  Nature Neuroscience  Vol. 21 p.1185  August 2018

J. A. Cardin   Inhibitory Interneurons Regulate Temporal Precision and Correlations in Cortical Circuits  TINS Vol.41 p.689  October 2018

L. A. Drayton et al.   Psychopaths fail to automatically take the perspective of others  PNAS Vol. 115 p.3302 27 March 2018   (Psychopaths are not incapable of considering the welfare of others but don’t do it automatically – which suggests a deficiency of emotional mirror neurons.)

M. E. Horn & R. A. Nicoll   Somatostatin and parvalbumin inhibitory synapses onto hippocampal pyramidal cells are regulated by distinct mechanisms.  PNAS Vol. 115 p.589 9 January 2018  (An example of the increasing number of distinctions between inhibitory neurons that are emerging.)

R. Rubin et al.   Balanced excitation and inhibition are required for high-capacity, noise-robust neuronal selectivity  PNAS Vol.114 E9366 31 October 2017

M. Tanaka et al.   A mesocortical dopamine circuits enables the cultural transmission of vocal behaviour  Nature Vol. 563 p.117  1 November 2018

F. K. Wong et al.   Pyramidal cell regulation of interneuron survival sculpts cortical networks  Nature  Vol. 557  p.668  31 May 2018


Chapter 27:  A Tentative History of Consciousness

K. C. Bittner et al.  Behavioral time scale synaptic plasticity underlies CA1 place fields  Science Vol. 357 p.1033  8 September 2017  (A form of synaptic modification which requires less delicate timing than usual, and seems appropriate to learning about places.)

S. D. Briscoe et al.  Neocortical Association Cell Types in the Forebrain of Birds and Alligators  Curr. Biol. Vol. 28 p.686 5 March 2018   (As suspected, the forebrains of birds and reptiles are  just differently structured, not completely different.)

D. C. Dennett   From Bacteria to Bach and Back  W. W. Norton & Co. 2017  (The philosopher’s latest thoughts on consciousness.  Includes some stimulating ideas about Dawkin’s ‘memes’ – of which languages, Dennett points out, are an outstanding example.   I was prompted to reflect that memes must depend on mirror neurons, and that mirror neurons are extremely valuable in species where behaviour is not entirely dictated by the genetic plan for neurons and muscles, providing a different way of benefitting from the experience of previous generations.)

C. D. Frith & P. Haggard   Volition and the Brain – Revisiting a Classic Experimental Study  TINS Vol.41 p.405 July 2018

M. S. Gazzaniga   The Consciousness Instinct: Unravelling the Mystery of How the Brain Makes the Mind  Farrar, Straus & Giroux  2018

C. Koch   What is Consciousness?   Nature  Vol. 557  S9  10 May 2018

A. Sotiras et al.   Patterns of coordinated cortical remodeling during adolescence and their associations with functional specialization and evolutionary expansion  PNAS Vol. 114 p.3527  28 March 2017

M. A. Tosches et al.   Evolution of pallium, hippocampus and cortical cell types revealed by single-cell transcriptomics in reptiles  Science  Vol. 360 p.881  25 May 2018  (Comparing gene expression in turtle, lizard and mouse the authors confirm that an equivalent of the hippocampus forms a large part of the reptilian forebrain.   They also find that glutamatergic (excitatory) neurons seem to have diversified in mammals, as compared to reptiles, more than GABA (inhibitory) ones.)

Q. Wang et al.   Organization of the connections between claustrum and cortex in the mouse   J. Comp. Neurol.  Vol. 525(6)  p.1317  16 February 2017  (Christof Koch has long believed the thin sheet of cells extending under the neocortex is important to consciousness, and has now found a way of mapping these well-hidden neurons.)


Chapter 28:  Language

J. Z. Abramson et al.   Imitation of novel conspecific and human speech sounds in the killer whale (Orcinus orca)   Proceedings of the Royal Society B  Vol. 285 31 January 2018

X. Si et al.  Cooperative cortical network for categorical processing of Chinese lexical tone  PNAS Vol. 114 p.12303  14 November 2017


Chapter 29:  The Evolution of Language

M. G. Newberry et al.  Detecting evolutionary forces in language change  Nature Vol. 551 p.223  9 November 2017


Chapter 30:  Endword

G. Atlam et al.  The Claustrum Supports Resilience to Distraction  Curr. Biol. Vol. 28 p.2752  10 September 2018

L. Barkovitch et al.  Disruption of Conscious Access in Schizophrenia  TINs Vol. 21 p.878  November 2017

M. Diana et al.  Rehabilitating the addicted brain with transcranial magnetic stimulation  Nat. Rev. Neurosci. Vol.18 p.685  November 2017

H. Maruoka et al.  Lattice system of functionally distinct cell types in the neocortex  Science Vol.  358 p.610 3 November 2017

C. Mayer et al.  Developmental diversifcation of cortical inhibitory interneurons  Nature Vol. 555 p.457  22 March 2018

Song Qi et al.  How cognitive and reactive fear circuits optimize escape decisions in humans   PNAS Vol. 115  p.3186  20 March 2018

H. Shen  Portrait of a memory  Nature Vol. 553 p.146 11 January 2018

B. Tasic et al.  Shared and distinct transcriptomic cell types across neocortical areas  Nature Vol. 563 p.72  1 November 2018  (A study of cell types in primary visual cortex and part of motor cortex in mice.   Excitatory glutamate-deploying neurons differ noticeably more between the two areas than inhibitory GABA ones do.)

S. Zhong et al.  A single-cell RNA-seq survey of the developmental landscape of the human prefrontal cortex  Nature  Vol. 555 p.524 22 March 2018