Development of cortical folding during evolution and ontogeny

Trends Neurosci. 2013 May;36(5):275-84. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2013.01.006. Epub 2013 Feb 14.


Cortical folding is a hallmark of many, but not all, mammalian brains. The degree of folding increases with brain size across mammals, but at different scales between orders and families. In this review we summarize recent studies that have shed light on cortical folding and discuss new models that arise from these data. Genetic analyses argue for an independent development of brain volume and gyrification, but more recent data on the cellular development of the cortex and its connectivity highlight the role of these processes in cortical folding (grey matter hypothesis). This, and the widely discussed tension hypothesis, further tested by analyzing the mechanical properties of maturing nerve fibers, synapses, and dendrites, can provide the basis for a future integrative view on cortical folding.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Cortex / growth & development*
  • Humans
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Organ Size / physiology*
  • Species Specificity