The Logic of Developing Neocortical Circuits in Health and Disease
The sensory and cognitive abilities of the mammalian neocortex are underpinned by intricate columnar and laminar circuits formed from an array of diverse neuronal populations. One approach to determining how interactions between these circuit components give rise to complex behavior is to investigate the rules by which cortical circuits are formed and acquire functionality during development. This review summarizes recent research on the development of the neocortex, from genetic determination in neural stem cells through to the dynamic role that specific neuronal populations play in the earliest circuits of neocortex, and how they contribute to emergent function and cognition. While many of these endeavors take advantage of model systems, consideration will also be given to advances in our understanding of activity in nascent human circuits. Such cross-species perspective is imperative when investigating the mechanisms underlying the dysfunction of early neocortical circuits in neurodevelopmental disorders, so that one can identify targets amenable to therapeutic intervention.