The development of cerebral functions

By the end of this module you should be able to:


  • describe the processes that occur during cerebral development


  • list the different types of neurodevelopmental abnormality that may impact how the brain develops and functions


  • demonstrate an understanding of both the neuroscience and clinical impact of postnatal neurogenesis


  • outline the effect of timing, intensity and the location of injury on cerebral development and link this to the clinical implications of disruption/damage to the developmental processes


  • define the concept of neuroplasticity and demonstrate how this may occur across a lifespan


  • explain how neurodevelopment may contribute to psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorder (ASD).


Module introduction

Welcome to this module. This is an exciting and fast-developing area, with theories such as the neurodevelopmental hypothesis of schizophrenia still the subject of hot debate. I have tried to include a variety of approaches to help make this sometimes complex area approachable it is also worth looking at overlapping TrOn modules such as Types of cell in the nervous system to consolidate your learning.


The module takes you through the development of the human brain, from its earliest stages to the formation of the adult brain with its cortical layers, different cell types and complex neural pathways.


Numerous factors impact on successful brain development and we will explore these as well as how neurodevelopment can go wrong and what the consequences are.


We will also look at brain plasticity as well as the spectrum of neurodevelopmental disorders.


Exploring this subject has genuinely given depth to my clinical work and influenced how I explain things to children and their parents. I’ve tried to use as many diagrams and videos as I can in the hope that they will bring the words to life. All the very best for your revision and exams.


Learning notes

We recommend that you make some notes as you work through this module.


The 'TrOn Notebook' facility can be accessed throughout the module (allowing you to make notes on each page), and these notes will be saved in your personal area 'My TrOn', for future reference. However, you will not be able to print these notes as one single document.


If you would prefer to make your notes in a separate document you may wish to download the 'learning notes' below. This downloadable Word document will allow you to keep a personalised record of your learning, which you can then save and/or print for future reference.


Download the learning notes document for this module


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