Shaping Our Minds: Stem and Progenitor Cell Diversity in the Mammalian Neocortex

Santos J. Franco, Ulrich Müller

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

139 Scopus citations


The neural circuits of the mammalian neocortex are crucial for perception, complex thought, cognition, and consciousness. This circuitry is assembled from many different neuronal subtypes with divergent properties and functions. Here, we review recent studies that have begun to clarify the mechanisms of cell-type specification in the neocortex, focusing on the lineage relationships between neocortical progenitors and subclasses of excitatory projection neurons. These studies reveal an unanticipated diversity in the progenitor pool that requires a revised view of prevailing models of cell-type specification in the neocortex. We propose a "sequential progenitor-diversification model" that integrates current knowledge to explain how projection neuron diversity is achieved by mechanisms acting on proliferating progenitors and their postmitotic offspring. We discuss the implications of this model for our understanding of brain evolution and pathological states of the neocortex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-34
Number of pages16
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 9 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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