Frontiers in Neural Circuits vol:8 issue:1 pages:149-165
Brains have evolved to optimize sensory processing. In primates, complex cognitive tasks must be executed and evolution led to the development of large brains with many cortical areas. Rodents do not accomplish cognitive tasks of the same level of complexity as primates and remain with small brains both in relative and absolute terms. But is a small brain necessarily a simple brain? In this review, several aspects of the visual cortical networks have been compared between rodents and primates. The visual system has been used as a model to evaluate the level of complexity of the cortical circuits at the anatomical and functional levels. The evolutionary constraints are first presented in order to appreciate the rules for the development of the brain and its underlying circuits. The organization of sensory pathways, with their parallel and cross-modal circuits, is also examined. Other features of brain networks, often considered as imposing constraints on the development of underlying circuitry, are also discussed and their effect on the complexity of the mouse and primate brain are inspected. In this review, we discuss the common features of cortical circuits in mice and primates and see how these can be useful in understanding visual processing in these animals.