Penn Medicine Neuroscience Center

Research & Clinical Trials

Developmental Neuroscience

How does the brain develop? At first, there are just a few cells. Cell proliferation, differentiation, and migration to the appropriate location follow. Neurons grow axons to make the right synaptic connections, eventually creating a brain with a precise structure and intricate circuitry.

Most cells in the body have the same genes, yet they differentiate into vastly different cell types, composing structurally and functionally distinct organs (like the brain).

Neurons make thousands of synaptic connections as the brain forms and develops, and these connections are often quite specific. Developmental neuroscientists study how neurons find appropriate synaptic targets, how synapses form, why some neurons survive and others don not, and other questions of neuronal development.