Fate and freedom in developing neocortical circuits

Nat Commun. 2017 Jul 3:8:16042. doi: 10.1038/ncomms16042.


The activity of neuronal circuits of the neocortex underlies our ability to perceive the world and interact with our environment. During development, these circuits emerge from dynamic interactions between cell-intrinsic, genetically determined programs and input/activity-dependent signals, which together shape these circuits into adulthood. Building on a large body of experimental work, several recent technological developments now allow us to interrogate these nature–nurture interactions with single gene/single input/single-cell resolution. Focusing on excitatory glutamatergic neurons, this review discusses the genetic and input-dependent mechanisms controlling how individual cortical neurons differentiate into specialized cells to assemble into stereotypical local circuits within global, large-scale networks.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gene-Environment Interaction
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Neocortex / cytology
  • Neocortex / growth & development*
  • Neocortex / metabolism
  • Neocortex / physiology
  • Nerve Net
  • Neural Pathways*
  • Neurogenesis / genetics*
  • Neuronal Plasticity
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Single-Cell Analysis


  • Glutamic Acid