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Ligation of Fas and Cell Death

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Apoptosis in Neuronal and Cognitive Development?

19 March 2004

Rainer Spiegel

I wonder whether there is a particular reason for apoptosis other than the removal of damaged cells. From an evolutionary point of view, the removal of damaged cells would provide an advantage, as those individuals who have this mechanism would be more likely to survive and reproduce. However, does the removal of neurons (=neuronal apoptosis) in the central nervous system also help to form neuronal pathways that would otherwise not have formed, as they would have been inhibited by superfluous neurons? If these neuronal pathways are responsible for the acquisition of certain skills, then there might be a point to argue that neuronal and cognitive development benefit from apoptosis. I would be grateful for any expert advice or recommendations in this regard.
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Science Signaling. ISSN 1937-9145 (online), 1945-0877 (print). Pre-2008: Science's STKE. ISSN 1525-8882