Emerging roles of neural stem cells in cerebral cortex development and evolution

Dev Neurobiol. 2012 Jul;72(7):955-71. doi: 10.1002/dneu.22013.


Expansion and folding of the cerebral cortex are landmark features of mammalian brain evolution, which are recapitulated during embryonic development. Neural stem cells and their derived germinal cells are coordinated during cerebral cortex development to produce the appropriate amounts and types of neurons. This process is further complicated in gyrencephalic species, where newborn neurons must disperse in the tangential axis to expand the cerebral cortex in surface area. Here, we review advances that have been made over the last decade in understanding the nature and diversity of telencephalic neural stem cells and their roles in cortical development, and we discuss recent progress on how newly identified types of cortical progenitor cell populations may have evolved to drive the expansion and folding of the mammalian cerebral cortex.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology
  • Cerebral Cortex / growth & development*
  • Humans
  • Neural Stem Cells / cytology
  • Neural Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Neuroglia / cytology*
  • Neuroglia / physiology
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / physiology