Cognitive Neurodynamics

, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 151–163 | Cite as

Synchronized changes to relative neuron populations in postnatal human neocortical development

  • David L. Cooper
  • James E. Gentle
  • Ernest Barreto
  • James L. OldsEmail author
Research Article


Mammalian prenatal neocortical development is dominated by the synchronized formation of the laminae and migration of neurons. Postnatal development likewise contains “sensitive periods” during which functions such as ocular dominance emerge. Here we introduce a novel neuroinformatics approach to identify and study these periods of active development. Although many aspects of the approach can be used in other studies, some specific techniques were chosen because of a legacy dataset of human histological data (Conel in The postnatal development of the human cerebral cortex, vol 1–8. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1939–1967). Our method calculates normalized change vectors from the raw histological data, and then employs k-means cluster analysis of the change vectors to explore the population dynamics of neurons from 37 neocortical areas across eight postnatal developmental stages from birth to 72 months in 54 subjects. We show that the cortical “address” (Brodmann area/sub-area and layer) provides the necessary resolution to segregate neuron population changes into seven correlated “k-clusters” in k-means cluster analysis. The members in each k-cluster share a single change interval where the relative share of the cortex by the members undergoes its maximum change. The maximum change occurs in a different change interval for each k-cluster. Each k-cluster has at least one totally connected maximal “clique” which appears to correspond to cortical function.


Sensorimotor Network clique Broca’s area Primary visual cortex Retrosplenial cortex 



We wish to thank R. S. Shankle for helpful comments and complete access to the CYBERCHILD data base.

Supplementary material

11571_2010_9103_MOESM1_ESM.doc (252 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 252 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • David L. Cooper
    • 1
  • James E. Gentle
    • 2
  • Ernest Barreto
    • 3
  • James L. Olds
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Doctoral Program in NeuroscienceGeorge Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA
  2. 2.Department of Computational and Data SciencesGeorge Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA
  3. 3.Department of Physics & Astronomy, the Krasnow Institute for Advanced StudyGeorge Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA
  4. 4.Department of Molecular Neuroscience, Krasnow Institute for Advanced StudyGeorge Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA

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