Evolution of neural symmetry and its coupled alignment to body plan morphology

Body morphology is thought to have heavily influenced the evolution of neural architecture. However, the extent of this interaction and its underlying principles are largely unclear. To help us elucidate these principles, we examine the artificial evolution of a hypothetical nervous system embedded in a fish-inspired animat. The aim is to observe the evolution of neural structures in relation to both body morphology and required motor primitives. Our investigations reveal that increasing the pressure to evolve a wider range of movements also results in higher levels of neural symmetry. We further examine how different body shapes affect the evolution of neural structure; we find that, in order to achieve optimal movements, the neural structure integrates and compensates for asymmetrical body morphology. Our study clearly indicates that different parts of the animat - specifically, nervous system and body plan - evolve in concert with and become highly functional with respect to the other parts. The autonomous emergence of morphological and neural computation in this model contributes to unveiling the surprisingly strong coupling of such systems in nature.