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development and functioning of the biological organism,

By way of background, this chapter begins with a consideration of two important concepts that are essential for understanding how brains develop. The first involves gene expression: what genes are and how they play an important role in brain development. The second is the outcome of brain development, the mature brain: what are the major structures and what are the basic principles of brain organization. The chapter then considers some of the major milestones of brain development with the aim of illustrating the dynamic, interactive nature of brain development.

Genes and Gene Products Genes are the material substance that is passed intergenerationally from parent to offspring. Genes are contained in the nucleotide sequences of DNA that are found in the nucleus of every cell in the body. The expression of a gene has one result: the production of a protein molecule. These molecular products of gene expression are essential for all aspects of development. Genes provide a template for making proteins and it is the proteins that are the active agents in biological development. Thus, while genes contain information that is essential for the development and functioning of the biological organism, genes are basically inert molecules