Cell migration in the forebrain

Annu Rev Neurosci. 2003;26:441-83. doi: 10.1146/annurev.neuro.26.041002.131058. Epub 2003 Feb 26.


The forebrain comprises an intricate set of structures that are required for some of the most complex and evolved functions of the mammalian brain. As a reflection of its complexity, cell migration in the forebrain is extremely elaborated, with widespread dispersion of cells across multiple functionally distinct areas. Two general modes of migration are distinguished in the forebrain: radial migration, which establishes the general cytoarchitectonical framework of the different forebrain subdivisions; and tangential migration, which increases the cellular complexity of forebrain circuits by allowing the dispersion of multiple neuronal types. Here, we review the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying each of these types of migrations and discuss how emerging concepts in neuronal migration are reshaping our understanding of forebrain development in normal and pathological situations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / physiology
  • Cell Movement* / genetics
  • Cell Movement* / physiology*
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological
  • Nerve Growth Factors / physiology
  • Neuroglia / physiology
  • Neuropil / metabolism
  • Prosencephalon / cytology*
  • Prosencephalon / physiology
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • neurotrophin 4