Livesey: Cortical Development

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The objective of our research is to understand the development and evolution of the neocortex. The neocortex, the part of the brain that integrates sensations, executes decisions and is responsible for cognition and perception, is a region of the nervous system that is unique to mammals. It is also a highly evolved part of the brain, exhibiting striking differences in relative size and complexity between different mammalian species, including primates. Morphologically, the neocortex is a large, sheet-like structure, composed of six cellular layers. However, the neocortex is a modular structure, with different areas of the six-layered sheet connected to different parts of the nervous system and thereby devoted to different functions. Thus, there are modules primarily dedicated to, for example, motor control, the somatic senses, vision and hearing.

Our two primary research questions are:

- how are neurons destined for each of the six layers generated in a temporal order by neocortical stem and progenitor cells?

- how are neocortical areas formed, or how are area-specific neurons produced by neocortical stem and progenitor cells?