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Principles of Current Vertebrate Neuromorphology

Publication year 2017
Published in Brain, Behavior and Evolution

Causal analysis of molecular patterning at neural plate and early neural tube stages has shown that the central nervous system (CNS) of vertebrates is essentially organized into transverse neural segments or neuromeres and longitudinal zones which follow the curved axis of the brain. The intersection of the longitudinal and transverse patterning processes in the embryonic brain leads to the formation of a checkerboard pattern of distinct progenitor domains called “fundamental morphological units” (FMUs). The topologically invariant pattern formed by the ventricular surfaces of the FMUs of a given taxon represents the “Bauplan” or “blueprint” of the brain of that taxon. The FMUs initially represent thin epithelial fields; during further development they are transformed into three-dimensional radial units, extending from the ventricular surface to the meningeal surface. It is of note that the boundaries of the neuromeres, longitudinal zones, and radial units all strictly adhere to a non-Cartesian coordinate system inherent to the CNS of all vertebrates. The major neural histogenetic processes, including cellular proliferation, radial migration, and differentiation, as well as the formation of grisea (cell masses, nuclei, and cortices), occur principally within the confines of the FMUs, although tangential migration may also take cells to distant sites. Hence, recognition and delimitation of these units is essential for the identification and interpretation of grisea. An outline of the procedure to be followed in these processes of identification and interpretation is presented, and a list of the pertinent homology criteria is provided.

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