embryo, human, infant @ Pixabay

The neural tube is the first part of the vertebrate brain and spinal cord. It becomes fully developed in about 28 days, and its shape will take on a butterfly-like appearance. As you can see below, this stage is called “the neural plate.” The cells that make up the neural tube are called neurons, which communicate with each other through synapses.

Neurons send messages from one to another using neurotransmitters as messengers. They form connections (synapses) with other neurons – forming circuits or networks like a telephone network or computer system. Each circuit has an assigned function: sensory information processing; motor control; cognitive tasks such as memory and thinking; autonomic functions such as heartbeat regulation and breathing; and endocrine functions like hormone balance.

ultrasound, fetus, embryo @ Pixabay

The neural tube becomes the cerebral cortex, which is a very important part of our brain that controls decision-making, language comprehension, and reasoning. It also manages memories. The prefrontal cortex plays an essential role in higher order thinking skills such as long-term planning or creativity. This area of the brain matures faster than others – so it’s one way to tell how old someone is by looking at their forehead wrinkles (a person with more wrinkles will have had more time for this area to mature).

In some areas of the world during certain times periods, women are often exposed to harmful substances including mercury poisoning leading to birth defects known as neurodevelopmental disorders. 

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