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We describe a distinctive, widespread population of neurons situated beneath the pial surface of the human embryonic forebrain even before complete closure of the neural tube. These 'predecessor' cells include the first neurons seen in the primordium of the cerebral cortex, before the onset of local neurogenesis. Morphological analysis, combined with the study of centrosome location, regional transcription factors and patterns of mitosis and neurogenesis, indicates that predecessor cells invade the cortical primordium by tangential migration from the subpallium. These neurons, described here for the first time, precede all other known cell types of the developing cortex.

Original publication




Journal article


Nat Neurosci

Publication Date





880 - 886


Body Patterning, Cell Differentiation, Cell Movement, Cerebral Cortex, Fetus, Gene Expression, Humans, Immunohistochemistry, Nerve Tissue Proteins, Neurons, Stem Cells, Transcription Factors