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Cereb Cortex. 2006 Mar;16(3):405-14. Epub 2005 Jun 8.

Hierarchical development of the primate visual cortex, as revealed by neurofilament immunoreactivity: early maturation of the middle temporal area (MT).

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  • 1Department of Physiology and Centre for Brain and Behaviour, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC 3800, Australia.


It has been suggested that the development of the cerebral cortex reflects its hierarchical organization, with the primary sensory areas being the first to reach structural and functional maturity, and higher-order association areas being the last. In the present study, we labelled the cortex of New World marmoset monkeys of late fetal and early postnatal ages with an antibody to non-phosphorylated neurofilament, a marker of structural maturation of a subset of pyramidal cells. Supporting the concept of hierarchical maturation, we found that at birth labelled cells were found in the primary visual, auditory and somatosensory areas, but not in most other cortical fields. The exception was visual area MT, which revealed an infragranular pattern of labelling comparable to the one observed in the primary areas, as well as some supragranular staining. In MT, an adult-like pattern of labelled cells, including both supragranular and infragranular layer neurons, emerged within the first postnatal month. In comparison, the development of other extrastriate areas was delayed, with the first signs of neurofilament staining not present until the third week. The present results support the concept of MT as another primary visual area, an idea previously advanced on the basis of functional and anatomical evidence.

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