Infographic : Basic Folding the Brain



Gyrification is the process of forming the characteristic folds of the cerebral cortex.The peak of such a fold is called a gyrus (plural: gyri), and its trough is called a sulcus (plural: sulci). The neurons of the cerebral cortex reside in a thin layer of gray matter, only 2–4 mm thick, at the surface of the brain.Much of the interior volume is occupied by white matter, which consists of long axonal projections to and from the cortical neurons residing near the surface. Gyrification allows a larger cortical surface area and hence greater cognitive functionality to fit inside a smaller cranium. In most mammals, gyrification begins during fetal development. Primates, cetaceans, and ungulates have extensive cortical gyri, with a few species exceptions, while rodents generally have none. Gyrification in some animals, for example the ferret, continues well into postnatal life.

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Gyrification is the process by which the brain undergoes changes in surface morphology to create sulcal and gyral regions. The period of greatest development of brain gyrification is during the third trimester of pregnancy, a period of time in which the brain undergoes considerable growth. Little is known about changes in gyrification during childhood and adolescence, although considering the changes in gray matter volume and thickness during this time period, it is conceivable that alterations in the brain surface morphology could also occur during this period of development. The formation of gyri and sulci in the brain allows for compact wiring that promotes and enhances efficient neural processing. If cerebral function and form are linked through the organization of neural connectivity, then alterations in neural connectivity, i.e., synaptic pruning, may also alter the gyral and sulcal patterns of the brain. This paper reviews developmental theories of gyrification, computational techniques for measuring gyrification, and the potential interaction between gyrification and neuronal connectivity. We also present recent findings involving alterations in gyrification during childhood and adolescence.




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