rubinsnk at is2.nyu.edu (Kalman Rubinson) wrote:
>Matt Jones (jonesmat at ohsu.edu) wrote:
>: Here's one hypothesis I heard in an undergraduate class. I have no idea
>: whether there's any evidence.
>>: Early swimming animals evolved crossed projections from the visual system
>: to the motor systems, so that an object perceived on one side of the body
>: would cause contraction of the muscles on the opposite side, leading to a
>: swimming movement away from the object (escape).
>>That seems derived from Coghill's thesis in 'Anatomy and the Problem of
>Behavior' (1929). He posited the need for crossed connections in a
>multicelled pre-vertebrate to convey chemical or tactile stimuli to
>contralateral effectors for avoidance. From this, he builds a model of
>spinal cord organization.
A hypothesis I came across last night, attributed to Marcel Kinsbourne by
Steven Pinker in his book "Language as Instinct", runs as follows:
bilaterally symmetrical invertebrates have an uncrossed nervous system,
their spinal cords (or the invert. equivalent) ventrally and their hearts
etc. dorsally, whereas vertebrates have a crossed nervous system, their
spinal cords dorsally and their internal organs ventrally. Kinsbourne
speculates that sometime during invert-vert evolution, the head was
twisted around 180 degrees so that it points the other way (sort of like
what happened to flatfish only worse). I thought that was a kind of cute
idea. I have no idea whether it has any merit or not.
k.jeffery at ucl.ac.uk