Review

Nature Reviews Neuroscience 10, 724-735 (October 2009) | doi:10.1038/nrn2719

Focus on: CNS evolution

Evolution of the neocortex: a perspective from developmental biology

Pasko Rakic1  About the author

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The enlargement and species-specific elaboration of the cerebral neocortex during evolution holds the secret to the mental abilities of humans; however, the genetic origin and cellular mechanisms that generated the distinct evolutionary advancements are not well understood. This article describes how novelties that make us human may have been introduced during evolution, based on findings in the embryonic cerebral cortex in different mammalian species. The data on the differences in gene expression, new molecular pathways and novel cellular interactions that have led to these evolutionary advances may also provide insight into the pathogenesis and therapies for human-specific neuropsychiatric disorders.

Author affiliations

  1. Department of Neurobiology and Kavli Institute for Neuroscience, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06510, USA.
    Email: pasco.rakic@yale.edu

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