When does brain development begin?
Brain development begins with the formation and closure of the neural tube, the earliest nervous tissue that looks like a fat earthworm stretched out along the entire back of the embryo.
The neural tube forms from the neural plate, which begins forming just sixteen days after conception. This plate lengthens and starts folding up, forming a groove at around eighteen days, which then begins fusing shut into a tube around twenty-two days post-conception. By 27 days, the tube is fully closed and has already begun its transformation into the brain and spinal cord of the embryo.
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One of the most sensitive periods in brain development occurs at the very beginning, when the neural tube is closing.
Neuroscientists do not yet fully understand the biological basis of these critical periods.
Genes and environment interact at every step of brain development, but they play very different roles.