Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we will assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you will not see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Together with a complex variety of behavioral, physiological, morphological, and neurobiological innovations, mammals are characterized by the development of an extensive isocortex (also called neocortex) that is both laminated and radially organized, as opposed to the brain of birds and reptiles. In this article, we will advance a developmental hypothesis in which the mechanisms of evolutionary brain growth remain partly conserved across amniotes (mammals, reptiles and birds), all based on Pax6 signaling or related morphogens. Despite this conservatism, only in mammals there is an additional upregulation of dorsal and anterior signaling centers (the cortical hem and the anterior forebrain, respectively) that promoted a laminar and a columnar structure into the neocortex. It is possible that independently, some birds also developed an upregulated dorsal pallium.

Original publication




Journal article


Front Neurosci

Publication Date





Pax6, Wnt, antihem, hem, isocortical development