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Evolution of the amniote pallium and the origins of mammalian neocortex


Address for correspondence: Ann B. Butler, Department of Molecular Neuroscience, Krasnow Institute, MSN 2A1, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA 22030.


Karten's neocortex hypothesis holds that many component cell populations of the sauropsid dorsal ventricular ridge (DVR) are homologous to particular cell populations in layers of auditory and visual tectofugal-recipient neocortex of mammals (i.e., temporal neocortex), as well as to some amygdaloid populations. The claustroamygdalar hypothesis, based on gene expression domains, proposes that mammalian homologues of DVR are found in the claustrum, endopiriform nuclei, and/or pallial amygdala. Because hypotheses of homology need to account for the totality of the evidence, the available data on multiple forebrain features of sauropsids and mammals are reviewed here. While some genetic data are compatible with the claustroamygdalar hypothesis, and developmental (epigenetic) data are indecisive, hodological, morphological, and topographical data favor the neocortex hypothesis and are inconsistent with the claustroamygdalar hypothesis. Detailed studies of gene signaling cascades that establish neuronal cell-type identity in DVR, tectofugal-recipient neocortex, and claustroamygdala will be needed to resolve this debate about the evolution of neocortex.