Homology, correspondence, and continuity across development: The case of sleep

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The causal relationships among developing behaviors can take many forms. At one extreme, two behaviors may emerge independently of one another and, at the other extreme, the emergence of one behavior may depend on the prior emergence of the other. Whether the two behaviors in the latter case should be designated as developmentally homologous is explored in this essay by reviewing differing approaches to conceptualizing the development of sleep. It is argued that whereas the concept of developmental homology may offer little new to the understanding of sleep development, the conventional notion of evolutionary homology remains to be fully exploited. Identifying homologous sleep processes will benefit from the adoption of a developmental comparative approach that emphasizes real-time sleep dynamics and individual sleep components. Because evolution occurs through the modification of developmental processes, a new commitment to a developmental comparative approach to sleep is a necessary next step toward a better understanding of its evolution. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Dev Psychobiol 55: 92–100, 2013.

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