Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC San Diego

UC San Diego Previously Published Works bannerUC San Diego

Continuity and Discontinuity in Human Cortical Development and Change From Embryonic Stages to Old Age.


The human cerebral cortex is highly regionalized, and this feature emerges from morphometric gradients in the cerebral vesicles during embryonic development. We tested if this principle of regionalization could be traced from the embryonic development to the human life span. Data-driven fuzzy clustering was used to identify regions of coordinated longitudinal development of cortical surface area (SA) and thickness (CT) (n = 301, 4-12 years). The principal divide for the developmental SA clusters extended from the inferior-posterior to the superior-anterior cortex, corresponding to the major embryonic morphometric anterior-posterior (AP) gradient. Embryonic factors showing a clear AP gradient were identified, and we found significant differences in gene expression of these factors between the anterior and posterior clusters. Further, each identified developmental SA and CT clusters showed distinguishable life span trajectories in a larger longitudinal dataset (4-88 years, 1633 observations), and the SA and CT clusters showed differential relationships to cognitive functions. This means that regions that developed together in childhood also changed together throughout life, demonstrating continuity in regionalization of cortical changes. The AP divide in SA development also characterized genetic patterning obtained in an adult twin sample. In conclusion, the development of cortical regionalization is a continuous process from the embryonic stage throughout life.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View