The immense range of human behaviours is rooted in the complex neural networks of the cerebrum. The creation of these networks depends on the precise integration of specific neuronal subtypes that are born in different regions of the telencephalon. Here, using the mouse as a model system, we review how these proliferative zones are established. Moreover, we discuss how these regions can be traced back in development to the function of a few key genes, including those that encode fibroblast growth factors (FGFs), sonic hedgehog (SHH), bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs), forkhead box G1 (FOXG1), paired box 6 (PAX6) and LIM homeobox protein 2 (LHX2), that pattern the early telencephalon.
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