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Development of the Nervous System


Patrick Charnay, Biology Department, ENS


Credits: 6 ECTS
Semester: 1st semester
Prerequisites for the course: there is no absolute prerequisite, but the course requires a solid background in cell and molecular biology, as well as in genetics. Basis in developmental biology and neurosciences will also be useful.


The human nervous system is an object of extreme complexity and its organization is progressively built during development. Understanding its history (developmental and evolutionary) constitutes an important element for deciphering its physiology and pathology. Furthermore, development of the nervous system is an essential aspect of general animal development.
Therefore this module should be of interest to students aiming at specialization in neurosciences, physiology or developmental biology. It will present the principles and mechanisms governing the establishment of the nervous system in several species constituting experimental models.


The following themes will be treated: general organisation of the nervous system, neural induction, anterior-porterior and dorso-ventral patterning, cell polarity, neurogenesis, axonal growth and guidance, synaptogenesis, neuronal network maturation, neural crest, glial cells, myelinisation, adult neurogenesis and neural stem cells,…
Keywords: Pattern formation, gastrulation, neural induction, neurogenesis, neuron, glial cells, cell polarity, axonal guidance, synaptogenesis, neuronal network, stem cell, myelin.

Assessment and evaluation

Assessment and evaluation will depend on the number of students attending the course. It will involve a written examination or the oral presentation of a scientific paper.

Course material

Course material (hand-outs, online presentation available, …): printed versions of the powerpoints of the lecturers’ presentations will be provided to the students prior to each lecture. A digital version will also be provided afterwards.

Suggested readings

Suggested readings in relationship with the module content (textbook chapters, reviews, articles): "Developmental Neurobiology" (Mahendra and Jacobson) ; Some chapters in: “Developmental Biology” (Scott Gilbert) and “Neuroscience” (Bear, Connors and Paradiso)

Teaching team:

Patrick Charnay (ENS-Biology)