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Subplate Zone of the Human Brain: Historical Perspective and New Concepts
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Str. 3 - 8
Subplate zone (SP) is prominent, transient laminar compartment of the human fetal cerebral wall. The SP develops
around 13 and gradually disappears after 32–34 postovulatory weeks. The SP neurons can be found as late as nine
postnatal months, while remnants of the SP neurons can be traced until adult age in the form of interstitial neurons of
the gyral white matter. SP is composed of postmigratory and migratory neurons, growth cones, loosely arranged axons,
dendrites, glial cell and synapses. The remarkable feature of the SP is the presence of large amount of extracellular matrix.
This feature can be used for delineation of SP in magnetic resonance images (MRI) of both, in vivo and post mortem
brains. The importance of SP as the main synaptic zone of the human fetal cortex is based on the rich input of »waiting«
afferents from thalamus and cortex, during the crucial phase of cortical target area selection. SP increases during mammalian
evolution and culminates in human brain concomitantly with increase in number and diversity of cortico-cortical
fibers. The recent neurobiological evidence shows that SP is important site of spontaneous endogeneous activity,
building a framework for development of cortical columnar organization. The SP, which can be readily visualized on
conventional and DTI (diffusion-tensor-imaging) MRI in vivo, today is in the focus of interest of pediatric neurology due
to the following facts: (1) SP is the site of early neural activity, (2) SP is the major substrate for functional plasticity, and
(3) selective vulnerability of SP may lead to cognitive impairment.
fetal brain; early endogeneous activity; cortico-cortical fibers; magnetic resonance imaging; cognitive impairment; mammalian brain evolution
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