Cerebral cortex: Symmetric vs: asymmetric cell division

G. Fishell, C. Hanashima

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The six distinct laminae within the mammalian cerebral cortex contain neurons that exhibit a wide variety of specific physiological properties and synaptic connections. This diversity emerges from a restricted progenitor pool within the embryonic cortical ventricular zone. Individual cortical progenitors produce multiple subtypes over a prolonged period during corticogenesis. This article describes classical studies that suggest that neurogenesis in the cerebral cortex is dependent on asymmetric divisions, where one daughter remains in a progenitor state while the other exits to become a mature neuron. The present understanding of the molecular mechanisms regulating both asymmetric cell division and the sequential production of different neuronal subtypes during development is reviewed. However, as yet only a subset of the factors controlling each of these two events has been identified. This suggests that present genetic approaches will soon significantly extend our understanding of these developmental processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Neuroscience
PublisherElsevier Ltd
Number of pages7
ISBN (Print)9780080450469
StatePublished - 2009


  • Asymmetric cell division
  • Cell fate specification
  • Cerebral cortex
  • Cortical layer
  • Cortical progenitor
  • Neurogenesis
  • Radial glial cell
  • Subventricular zone
  • Ventricular zone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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