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J Comp Neurol. 1993 Jul 1;333(1):41-52.

Pre- and postnatal development of the primary visual cortex of the common marmoset. I. A changing space for synaptogenesis.

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Department of Anatomy, University of Göttingen, Germany.


The primary visual cortex of Callithrix jacchus occupies a large portion of the occipital neocortex and can be safely delineated from fetal stages onwards. In 20 animals ranging in age from fetal to adult age the morphological development of area 17 was evaluated and compared with the growth of whole brain, skull, and head size. Cortical thickness, surface area, and volume of the area were determined in addition to predominant growth directions. The volume of area 17 approximately doubles between birth (241 mm3) and three months of age (506 mm3). This maximum value marks an overshoot in growth (volume: 180%, surface area: 150%, thickness: 122%), which is followed by a considerable reduction before adult values (100%) are reached. Although these values seem to indicate that the overall reduction in size is fairly isometric, growth and regression are locally anisometric. For example, layers II-IVc contribute disproportionately to the overshoot; thickening is less pronounced than tangential growth and follows a slightly different time course. These data suggest that the developing visual cortex represents a highly dynamic distribution space for the developing synaptic junctions which should be taken into account in studies on synaptogenesis. By comparison it is suggested that this growth dynamic is not restricted to area 17 but also occurs in some other parts of the cerebral cortex. In contrast, most subcortical brain regions apparently do not undergo overshoot growth. Structural changes of the skull compensate the overshoot in cortex growth, so that head size increases steadily.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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