The mammalian cerebral cortex is the most cellularly complex structure in the animal kingdom. Almost all cortical neurons are produced during a limited embryonic period by cortical progenitor cells in a proliferative region that surrounds the ventricular system of the developing brain. The proliferative region comprises 2 distinct zones, the ventricular zone, which is a neuroepithelial layer directly adjacent to the ventricular lumen, and the subventricular zone, which is positioned superficial to the ventricular zone. Recent advances in molecular and cell biology have made possible the study of specific cell populations, and 2 cortical progenitor cell types, radial glial cells in the ventricular zone and intermediate progenitor cells in the subventricular zone, have been shown to generate neurons in the embryonic cerebral cortex. These findings have refined our understanding of cortical neurogenesis, with implications for understanding the causes of neurodevelopmental disordersandfor their potential treatment.
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