The Combinatorial Creature: Cortical Phenotypes Within and Across Lifetimes
The neocortex is one of the most distinctive structures of the mammalian brain, yet also one of the most varied in terms of both size and organization. Multiple processes have contributed to this variability including evolutionary mechanisms (i.e.,alterations in gene sequence) that alter the size, organization and connections of neocortex, and activity dependent mechanisms that can also modify these same features. Thus, changes to the neocortex can occur over different time-scales, including within a single generation. This combination of genetic and activity dependent mechanisms that create a given cortical phenotype allows the mammalian neocortex to rapidly and flexibly adjust to different body and environmental contexts, and in humans permits culture to impact brain construction.