Phylogenetic Proximity Revealed by Neurodevelopmental Event Timings

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Statistical properties such as distribution and correlation signatures were investigated using a temporal database of common neurodevelopmental events in the three species most frequently used in experimental studies, rat, mouse, and macaque. There was a fine nexus between phylogenetic proximity and empirically derived dates of the occurrences of 40 common events including the neurogenesis of cortical layers and outgrowth milestones of developing axonal projections. Exponential and power-law approximations to the distribution of the events reveal strikingly similar decay patterns in rats and mice when compared to macaques. Subsequent hierarchical clustering of the common event timings also captures phylogenetic proximity, an association further supported by multivariate linear regression data. These preliminary results suggest that statistical analyses of the timing of developmental milestones may offer a novel measure of phylogenetic classifications. This may have added pragmatic value in the specific support it offers for the reliability of rat/mouse comparative modeling, as well as in the broader implications for the potential of meta-analyses using databases assembled from the extensive empirical literature.

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