Chapter 7: Development of the Brain and Nervous System

7.1: Introduction

The development of the nervous system is a complex and intricately coordinated process spanning multiple stages, from the early embryonic stages through childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. During early developmental stages, the brain becomes able to dynamically transfer information across billions of interconnected neurons, and coordinate and control mental and bodily functions, including perception, cognition, and movement.

In this chapter, we cover the stages of nervous system and brain development in humans. We examine prenatal and postnatal stages of development from embryo through old age. We will also cover different stages of neuronal development, including neuron growth, migration, and death, as well as adult neurogenesis. Lastly, we will examine neuroplasticity—the brain’s ability to reorganize in response to intrinsic or extrinsic experiences—and how neuroplasticity is strongest during sensitive and critical periods of development. Learning how the nervous system develops and changes across the lifespan provides a more complete understanding of the brain.



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Biological Psychology Copyright © 2024 by Michael J. Hove and Steven A. Martinez is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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