The human cerebral cortex has undergone rapid expansion and complexification during recent evolution. One striking feature of human corticogenesis compared with other species is protracted timing, from prenatal stages of neurogenesis (taking months instead of days in the mouse), to postnatal stages of neuronal maturation and circuit formation (taking years instead of weeks in the mouse).
The resulting cortical neoteny is thought to contribute in an important fashion to enhanced neural circuit complexity and plasticity. Human to mouse xenotransplantation experiments indicate that the species-specific developmental timing of corticogenesis is largely intrinsic to human cortical cells, which display prolonged juvenile synaptic plasticity even in the adult mouse brain. The underlying molecular mechanisms include selective divergence in gene regulatory networks, but also species-specific global changes in mitochondria and metabolic dynamics.
Those wishing to meet the speaker should contact Franck Polleux.
The Columbia Neuroscience Seminar series is a collaborative effort of Columbia's Zuckerman Institute, the Department of Neuroscience, the Doctoral Program in Neurobiology and Behavior and the Columbia Translational Neuroscience Initiative, and with support from the Kavli Institute for Brain Science.