Development of the cerebral cortex depends critically on the regulation of progenitor cell proliferation and fate. Cortical progenitor cells are remarkably diverse with regard to their morphology as well as laminar and areal position. Extrinsic factors, such as thalamic axons, have been proposed to play key roles in progenitor cell regulation, but the diversity, extent and timing of interactions between extrinsic elements and each class of cortical progenitor cell in higher mammals remain undefined. Here we use the ferret to demonstrate the existence of a complex set of extrinsic elements that may interact, alone or in combination, with subpopulations of progenitor cells, defining a code of extrinsic influences. This code and its complexity vary significantly between developmental stages, layer of residence and morphology of progenitor cells. By analyzing the spatial-temporal overlap of progenitor cell subtypes with neuronal and axonal populations, we show that multiple sets of migrating neurons and axon tracts overlap extensively with subdivisions of the Subventricular Zones, in an exquisite lamina-specific pattern. Our findings provide a framework for understanding the feedback influence of both intra- and extra-cortical elements onto progenitor cells to modulate their dynamics and fate decisions in gyrencephalic brains.