From Medium: While naming brain regions is crucial to the study of neuroscience, it may also be misleading. These names may oversimplify our understanding of the brain, indirectly causing us to associate each brain region with one particular function and vice versa.
“To evolution, the brain is just a gigantic bag of cells, wired together. The purpose of that gigantic bag of cells is to contribute to the survival of the organism in which it resides, to surviving long enough to reproduce. Those that reproduce, win; those that don’t, don’t.
If a random mutation causes or changes the wiring of some neurons to another group of neurons, and that mutation improves the chances of having offspring, it will likely spread through the population. If that random mutation adds connections from prefrontal cortex to visual cortex; from cortical interneurons to a structure outside cortex; from motor cortex to midbrain dopamine neurons, then it will happen. Evolution will not feel sorry that it’s just ruined another set of textbooks.
And it is just a giant bag of cells wired together. Our best evidence that it is not — that we can cling to our names of all the bits — come from studies where we cut a bit out or turn a bit off. When we cut out area X and we see a ‘deficit’ in behaviour Y of an animal (like tying its shoelaces), then we think ‘aha! Area X is for tying shoelaces’. No. For starters, we never see a complete and permanent end to behaviour Y. We normally see that the animal is simply worse at doing or learning Y — not that it cannot do Y at all. The brain can carry on doing Y just fine, thanks, just not as well — there is massive redundancy in the brain. Like what you’d find if it was a giant bag of cells, wired together.”