The dorsal spinal cord and hindbrain: from developmental mechanisms to functional circuits


  • L.R. Hernandez-Miranda
  • T. Müller
  • C. Birchmeier


  • Developmental Biology


  • Dev Biol 432 (1): 34-42


  • Neurons of the dorsal hindbrain and spinal cord are central in receiving, processing and relaying sensory perception and participate in the coordination of sensory-motor output. Numerous cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie neuronal development in both regions of the nervous system are shared. We discuss here the mechanisms that generate neuronal diversity in the dorsal spinal cord and hindbrain, and emphasize similarities in patterning and neuronal specification. Insight into the developmental mechanisms has provided tools that can help to assign functions to small subpopulations of neurons. Hence, novel information on how mechanosensory or pain sensation is encoded under normal and neuropathic conditions has already emerged. Such studies show that the complex neuronal circuits that control perception of somatosensory and viscerosensory stimuli are becoming amenable to investigations.