The role of mechanics during brain development

Budday S, Steinmann P, Kuhl E (2014)

Publication Language: English

Publication Type: Journal article

Publication year: 2014


Publisher: Elsevier

Book Volume: 72

Pages Range: 75-92

DOI: 10.1016/j.jmps.2014.07.010


Convolutions are a classical hallmark of most mammalian brains. Brain surface morphology is often associated with intelligence and closely correlated with neurological dysfunction. Yet, we know surprisingly little about the underlying mechanisms of cortical folding. Here we identify the role of the key anatomic players during the folding process: cortical thickness, stiffness, and growth. To establish estimates for the critical time, pressure, and the wavelength at the onset of folding, we derive an analytical model using the Föppl-von Kármán theory. Analytical modeling provides a quick first insight into the critical conditions at the onset of folding, yet it fails to predict the evolution of complex instability patterns in the post-critical regime. To predict realistic surface morphologies, we establish a computational model using the continuum theory of finite growth. Computational modeling not only confirms our analytical estimates, but is also capable of predicting the formation of complex surface morphologies with asymmetric patterns and secondary folds. Taken together, our analytical and computational models explain why larger mammalian brains tend to be more convoluted than smaller brains. Both models provide mechanistic interpretations of the classical malformations of lissencephaly and polymicrogyria. Understanding the process of cortical folding in the mammalian brain has direct implications on the diagnostics of neurological disorders including severe retardation, epilepsy, schizophrenia, and autism.

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Budday, S., Steinmann, P., & Kuhl, E. (2014). The role of mechanics during brain development. Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids, 72, 75-92.


Budday, Silvia, Paul Steinmann, and Ellen Kuhl. "The role of mechanics during brain development." Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids 72 (2014): 75-92.

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