A hallmark feature of vertebrate brain organization is ordered topography, wherein sets of neuronal connections preserve the relative organization of cells between two regions. Although topography is often found in projections from peripheral sense organs to the brain, it also seems to participate in the anatomical and functional organization of higher brain centers, for reasons that are poorly understood. We propose that a key function of topography might be to provide computational underpinnings for precise one-to-one correspondences between abstract cognitive representations. This perspective offers a novel conceptualization of how the brain approaches difficult problems, such as reasoning and analogy making, and suggests that a broader understanding of topographic maps could be pivotal in fostering strong links between genetics, neurophysiology and cognition.
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