Development of the Central Nervous System and the Evolution of the Neocortex

Elizabeth Louise Dick

Master of Arts Thesis. 2000

The goal of this paper is a review of current literature concerning the development of the central nervous system (CNS) and the evolution of the neocortex. Development of the vertebrate system is emphasized but references to other phyla are made when comparison is relevant or interesting from an evolutionary perspective. Discussion focuses on the developing brain, and particular attention is be paid to the development of the neocortex. The neocortex is considered to be the origin of the sophisticated cognitive abilities observed in some animals. The restriction of this unique structure to members of the mammalian class, and the striking expansion of the size of the neocortex within this group, makes the study of the development of this structure especially interesting from and evolutionary point of view.