Glossary term:

Central canal

The central nervous system develops, in the womb, from a strip of tissue, passing along the back of the embryo, and which then rolls itself into a tube before sinking below the skin surface. This primitive neural tube then develops into the central nervous system, made up of the brain and the spinal cord. In the fully developed adult (i.e. by the age of about 18) the original tubular configuration of the embryonic structure is represented by chambers in the centre of the brain, known as ventricles. In the spine, the tubular structure is all-but obliterated, as the spinal cord develops, being represented by just a narrow tube in the centre of the cord, known as the central canal.