The human brain is one of the most complex structures currently under study. Its external shape is highly convoluted, with folds and valleys over the entire surface of the cortex. Disruption of the normal pattern of folding is associated with a number of abnormal neurological outcomes, some serious for the individual. Most of our knowledge of the normal development and folding of the cerebral cortex (gyrification) focuses on the internal, biological (i.e. genetically driven) mechanisms of the brain that drive gyrification. However, the impact of an adverse intrauterine and maternal physiological environment on cortical folding during fetal development has been understudied. Accumulating evidence suggests that the state of the intrauterine and maternal environment can have a significant impact on gyrification of the fetal cerebral cortex. This review summarises our current knowledge of how development in a suboptimal intrauterine and maternal environment can affect the normal development of the folded cerebral cortex.
- brain development
- intrauterine growth restriction