Development and evolution of cortical fields.

Arai Y, Pierani A.

Source : Neurosci. Res.

2015 Jul 17

Pmid : 24983875


The neocortex is the brain structure that has been subjected to a major size expansion, in its relative size, during mammalian evolution. It arises from the cortical primordium through coordinated growth of neural progenitor cells along both the tangential and radial axes and their patterning providing spatial coordinates. Functional neocortical areas are ultimately consolidated by environmental influences such as peripheral sensory inputs. Throughout neocortical evolution, cortical areas have become more sophisticated and numerous. This increase in number is possibly involved in the complexification of neocortical function in primates. Whereas extensive divergence of functional cortical fields is observed during evolution, the fundamental mechanisms supporting the allocation of cortical areas and their wiring are conserved, suggesting the presence of core genetic mechanisms operating in different species. We will discuss some of the basic molecular mechanisms including morphogen-dependent ones involved in the precise orchestration of neurogenesis in different cortical areas, elucidated from studies in rodents. Attention will be paid to the role of Cajal-Retzius neurons, which were recently proposed to be migrating signaling units also involved in arealization, will be addressed. We will further review recent works on molecular mechanisms of cortical patterning resulting from comparative analyses between different species during evolution.

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