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Anat Embryol (Berl). 1990;182(3):285-306.

The human brain at stages 18-20, including the choroid plexuses and the amygdaloid and septal nuclei.

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Carnegie Laboratories of Embryology, California Primate Research Center, Davis.


The development of the human brain during the seventh embryonic week was studied in serial sections of 88 embryos, and graphic reconstructions were prepared. From stages 18 to 20 the cerebral hemispheres expand rapidly and become more and more distinct entities. The longitudinal fissure between them occupies approximately half of their rostrocaudal extent. In stage 20 they have progressed so far in organization that functional aspects (based on synapses in the primordial plexiform layer) are of importance. An advanced differentiation is also present in the amygdaloid body, which has at least four individual nuclei, and in the forebrain septum, which shows the nucleus of the diagonal band and the medial septal nucleus. This has a bearing on recent experimental studies that document the fundamental role of the septal nuclei with regard to behavioural and cognitive functions. Fibre connections between septal nuclei and hippocampus have appeared. A definitive internal capsule, however, is not yet present. The main connections with diencephalon and other parts of the brain are chiefly by fibres to or from the amygdaloid body by way of the lateral forebrain bundle. The olfactory areas are connected with the habenular nuclei by a well developed stria medullaris thalami. Globus pallidus externus, entopeduncular nucleus, and subthalamic nucleus are prominent features in the subthalamus. The main nucleus of the oculomotor nerve shows a dorsolateral and a ventromedial portion. The rhombic lip is mitotically active in all parts of the rhombencephalon, and seems to participate significantly in the formation of the intermediate layer of the cerebellum and of the cochlear nuclei. The sensory nucleus of the trigeminal nerve has appeared. In the cerebellum the cell layer thought to contain the future Purkinje cells develops. The cerebellar plate is organized into external and internal bulges, and is now connected with mid- and hindbrain through fibre bundles. The area thought to be the dentate nucleus and the supposed floccular region are especially rich in fibres. The accessory olivary nucleus appears in stage 19, and accessory nuclei of the abducent and hypoglossal nerves are evident in stage 20. The choroid plexuses of the fourth and lateral ventricles have appeared. In view of their advanced features, the study of embryos of stages 19-21 becomes increasingly relevant to questions of tissue transplantation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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