Information processing in the cerebral cortex requires the activation of diverse neurons across layers and columns, which are established through the coordinated production of distinct neuronal subtypes and their placement along the three-dimensional axis. Over recent years, our knowledge of the regulatory mechanisms of the specification and integration of neuronal subtypes in the cerebral cortex has progressed rapidly. In this review, we address how the unique cytoarchitecture of the neocortex is established from a limited number of progenitors featuring neuronal identity transitions during development. We further illuminate the molecular mechanisms of the subtype-specific integration of these neurons into the cerebral cortex along the radial and tangential axis, and we discuss these key features to exemplify how neocortical circuit formation accomplishes economical connectivity while maintaining plasticity and evolvability to adapt to environmental changes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas