In this article I have discussed some of the evidence from star-nosed moles and rodents for how changes in the details of neocortical maps may be effected through alterations of sensory surfaces in the periphery. The title of this article was inspired by the conclusion that many of these peripheral influences on the organization of the brain may not require a change in the expression of patterning genes in the CNS during the course of evolution. Rather, relatively small changes in gene expression at the level of sensory sheets may be communicated centrally by a cascade of inductive events during the course of development. The information communicated from the periphery includes not only details of how to construct a map of the topographic distribution and number of receptors in the periphery, but may also include important information about how much processing space should be devoted to the different afferent inputs. For example, the
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