Abstract

During development the human cortex changes from a smooth lissencephalic structure to one that is highly convoluted. Increases in the degree of cortical folding are associated with brain size only for the first part of brain growth; during the second half, differences in cortical folding match those of brain size, resulting in no change in the degree of folding. When the degree of cortical folding is studied as a function of age, a brief postnatal overshoot, an effect of brain size, is observed. The analysis suggests that the mechanical hypothesis of cortical buckling can best explain the degree of cortical folding, but that other hypotheses, like gyrogenesis, are required to explain the placement and orientation of sulci. The adult asymptote in degree of cortical folding is associated with the onset end disappearance of single subplate lamina, suggesting that subplate:cortical plate associations should be examined as causal for gyrification. Areas whose sulci differ in length between the two hemispheres have similar degrees of convolutedness, supporting interpretations that the sizes of gyri are asymmetric in the two hemispheres. The ontogenetic data support the thesis that human cortical proportions evolved when the brain enlarged in size and that the process was not one of neoteny.