A tension-based theory of morphogenesis and compact wiring in the central nervous system

  title={A tension-based theory of morphogenesis and compact wiring in the central nervous system},
  author={David C. Van Essen},
Many structural features of the mammalian central nervous system can be explained by a morphogenetic mechanism that involves mechanical tension along axons, dendrites and glial processes. In the cerebral cortex, for example, tension along axons in the white matter can explain how and why the cortex folds in a characteristic species-specific pattern. In the cerebellum, tension along parallel fibres can explain why the cortex is highly elongated but folded like an accordion. By keeping the… 
A 2020 view of tension-based cortical morphogenesis
A differential expansion sandwich plus (DES+) revision to the original TBM model for cerebral cortical expansion and folding is proposed, and a cerebellar multilayer sandwich (CMS) model is proposed that can account for many distinctive features, including its unique, accordion-like folding in the adult.
Mechanisms of Brain Morphogenesis
This review discusses recent advances in understanding of the physical mechanisms of morphogenesis during brain development, and focuses on two processes: formation of the primary brain vesicles and folding of the cerebral cortex.
A connected cytoskeleton network generates axonal tension in embryonic Drosophila.
A small segment of the axons of embryonic Drosophila motor neurons are exposed to specific cytoskeletal disruption drugs and a local force disruption results in a collapse of tension of the entire axon, which potentially provides a pathway for rapid tension regulation.
Mechanical morphogenesis and the development of neocortical organisation
The development and evolution of complex neocortical organisations is thought to result from the interaction of genetic and activity-dependent processes. Here we propose that a third type of process
The mechanical control of nervous system development
It is hypothesize that several steps during nervous system development, including neural progenitor cell differentiation, neuronal migration, axon extension and the folding of the brain, rely on or are even driven by mechanical cues and forces.
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Some mechanisms involved in the generation of this morphological divergence are discussed, based on simple spatial constraints for neurogenesis and mechanical forces generated by increasing neuronal numbers during development, and they are expected to contribute to unify the diverging vertebrate brain morphologies into general, simple mechanisms that help to establish homologies across groups.
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A computational model that instead of modeling mechanical forces relies on dimension reduction methods to place neurons according to specific connectivity requirements, which provides a unified conceptual understanding of gyrification linking cellular connectivity and macroscopic structures in large-scale neural network models of the brain.


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It is shown that a pattern of stripes can give economical wiring when axon diameters follow a law dp = dp + dwith p >4, where d1 and d2 are the diameters of the daughter b.
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Neural component placement
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It is concluded that neurite length is regulated by axial tension in both elongation and retraction, and the data suggest a three-way controller: above some tension set point, the neurite is stimulated to elongate and below some different, lower tension threshold the neurites are stimulated to retract.
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External morphological features of mammalian brains have long been utilized to judge not only the degree of phylogenetic development, but also the nature and level of complexity of brain functions.
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It is suggested that the exertion of tension by a growth cone could serve to guide the neurite along paths of high adhesivity both in vitro and in vivo.