Evolution of cortical neurons supporting human cognition

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Human cognitive abilities are generally thought to arise from cortical expansion over the course of human brain evolution. In addition to increased neuron numbers, this cortical expansion might be driven by adaptations in the properties of single neurons and their local circuits. We review recent findings on the distinct structural, functional, and transcriptomic features of human cortical neurons and their organization in cortical microstructure. We focus on the supragranular cortical layers, which showed the most prominent expansion during human brain evolution, and the properties of their principal cells: pyramidal neurons. We argue that the evolutionary adaptations in neuronal features that accompany the expansion of the human cortex partially underlie interindividual variability in human cognitive abilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)909-922
Number of pages14
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Volume26
Issue number11
Early online date15 Sept 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Matthijs Verhoog for providing the image displayed in Figure 1 . The work was supported by several grant awards, including award U01MH114812 from National Institute of Mental Health , grant no. 945539 (Human Brain Project SGA3) from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, and NWO Gravitation program BRAINSCAPES: A Roadmap from Neurogenetics to Neurobiology (NWO: 024.004.012) and VI.Vidi.213.014 grant from The Dutch Research Council (NWO).

Funding Information:
We thank Matthijs Verhoog for providing the image displayed in Figure 1. The work was supported by several grant awards, including award U01MH114812 from National Institute of Mental Health, grant no. 945539 (Human Brain Project SGA3) from the European Union's Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, and NWO Gravitation program BRAINSCAPES: A Roadmap from Neurogenetics to Neurobiology (NWO: 024.004.012) and VI.Vidi.213.014 grant from The Dutch Research Council (NWO). No interests are declared.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s)

Keywords

  • cognition
  • cortical neurons
  • evolution
  • human cortex
  • human pyramidal neurons
  • intelligence

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