In the nonmammalian telencephalon, there are neuronal populations corresponding to cell groups in the neocortex of mammals in terms of connections, single unit-responses, chemical content, and functions. Some of these populations in nonmammals, however, are organized in a nonlaminar, rather than laminar fashion. These observations may prompt a reassessment of the functional roles of lamination and the evolutionary origins of the mammalian neocortex. Thus, the role of neural circuits and laminar organization can be differentiated in order to understand the cognitive functions of the neocortex. Moreover, the origins of neocortex can be separable into the precursors of nonlaminar and laminar regions.