12 Scopus citations


Many vertebrate motor and sensory systems "decussate" or cross the midline to the opposite side of the body. The successful crossing of millions of axons during development requires a complex of tightly controlled regulatory processes. Because these processes have evolved in many distinct systems and organisms, it seems reasonable to presume that decussation confers a significant functional advantage - yet if this is so, the nature of this advantage is not understood. In this article, we examine constraints imposed by topology on the ways that a three-dimensional processor and environment can be wired together in a continuous, somatotopic, way. We show that as the number of wiring connections grows, decussated arrangements become overwhelmingly more robust against wiring errors than seemingly simpler same-sided wiring schemes. These results provide a predictive approach for understanding how 3D networks must be wired if they are to be robust, and therefore have implications both for future large-scale computational networks and for complex biomedical devices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1278-1292
Number of pages15
JournalAnatomical Record
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anatomy
  • Biotechnology
  • Histology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


  • Decussation
  • Dimensionality
  • Neuronal wiring
  • Topology


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