The human cerebral cortex is an immensely complex structure that subserves critical functions that can be disrupted in developmental and degenerative disorders. Recent innovations in cellular reprogramming and differentiation techniques have provided new ways to study the cellular components of the cerebral cortex. Here, we discuss approaches to generate specific subtypes of excitatory cortical neurons from pluripotent stem cells. We review spatial and temporal aspects of cortical neuron specification that can guide efforts to produce excitatory neuron subtypes with increased resolution. Finally, we discuss distinguishing features of human cortical development and their translational ramifications for cortical stem cell technologies.
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