Function of the Nervous System During Prenatal Life

  • Tryphena Humphrey


That the nervous system begins to function early during prenatal life is demonstrated only by the movements resulting from its activity. The skeletal muscle reflexes of the fetus are one manifestation of function, and constitute its overt behavior. (35) Another way that function is revealed is through visceral reactions, such as cardiac action, intestinal activity due to smooth muscle contraction, or glandular secretion. The neural regulation of the heart is probably the earliest evidence for function of the nervous system in visceral reactions, for nerve fibers invade the heart at about 16–19 mm,(60) and ECGs have been obtained as early as at 9.5 weeks of menstrual age [36.0 mm crown-rump length (CR), Hooker fetal series].(30)


Human Fetus Neuromuscular System Tongue Movement Head Extension Extremity Movement 
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© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tryphena Humphrey
    • 1
  1. 1.Deceased Department of Anatomy, The Medical CenterThe University of Alabama in BirminghamBirminghamUSA

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