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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Construction of the human forebrain

  • Author(s): Jernigan, TL
  • Stiles, J
  • et al.

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The adult human brain is arguably the most complex of biological systems. It contains 86 billion neurons (the information processing cells of the brain) and many more support cells. The neurons, with the assistance of the support cells, form trillions of connections creating complex, interconnected neural networks that support all human thought, feeling, and action. A challenge for modern neuroscience is to provide a model that accounts for this exquisitely complex and dynamic system. One fundamental part of this model is an account of how the human brain develops. This essay describes two important aspects of this developmental story. The first part of the story focuses on the remarkable and dynamic set of events that unfold during the prenatal period to give rise to cell lineage that form the essential substance of the brain, particularly the structures of the cerebral hemispheres. The second part of the story focuses on the formation of the major brain pathways of the cerebrum, the intricate fiber bundles that connect different populations of neurons to form the information processing systems that support all human thought and action. These two aspects of early brain development provide an essential foundation for understanding how the structure, organization, and functioning of the human brain emerge. WIREs Cogn Sci 2017, 8:e1409. doi: 10.1002/wcs.1409 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.

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