Control of cerebral size and thickness
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The mammalian neocortex is a sheet of cells covering the cerebrum that provides the structural basis for the perception of sensory inputs, motor output responses, cognitive function, and mental capacity of primates. Recent discoveries promote the concept that increased cortical surface size and thickness in phylogenetically advanced species is a result of an increased generation of neurons, a process that underlies higher cognitive and intellectual performance in higher primates and humans. Here, we review some of the advances in the field, focusing on the diversity of neocortical progenitors in different species and the cellular mechanisms of neurogenesis. We discuss recent views on intrinsic and extrinsic molecular determinants, including the role of epigenetic chromatin modifiers and microRNA, in the control of neuronal output in developing cortex and in the establishment of normal cortical architecture.