Patrick Kanold is a Professor at the University of Maryland, College Park. He obtained his Dipl.-Ing. in Electrical Engineering at the Technische Universität Berlin 1994; his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA. From 2000–2006 he was a postdoctoral fellow and Instructor at the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School in Boston, USA. Since 2007 he is at the University of Maryland College Park, USA.
The cerebral cortex is essential for our sensory experiences and conscious thought. Its neural connections, in particular sensory areas of the cerebral cortex, are shaped and sculpted by our early sensory experiences. Onset of these first sensory experiences of the world mark an important developmental event, enabling our worldy interactions to shape the makeup of our cerebral cortex. These long-lasting effects of early sensory experience are particularly striking in human communication, since early exposure to the mother’s language is required to detect all nuances in the underlying sounds. Early interactions with the world are mediated by a key set of neurons, subplate neurons, which remain part of the developing cerebral cortex until most of them disappear at later stages of development. They play a crucial role in the developing mammalian brain. Here I review the circuitry and functional roles of cortical subplate neurons, focusing on their purpose in the development of primary sensory cortices.
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