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Humans have been the center of civilization for much of the recorded history. Human development deals with the ways in which humans have evolved over the years. Studying human development is important as it helps to understand the way humanity shall progress and also what improvements can be done to our present conditions. This article deals with the ways in which human development is studied and recorded.

studying human development

Seven Methods of Studying Human Development


Observing a phenomenon is the cornerstone of any studying methodology. It is also the oldest. Scientists such as Ernest Haeckel pioneered the technique of observing the embryo of organisms to observe the early stages of development. These visual observations help us understand how creatures develop. Currently, “virtual embryo” projects are carrying out the techniques of illustrating the embryo growth stages.

Cell Labeling

Cells are the fundamental units of life and are responsible for the reproduction of a species. Cells are dyed using proteins for labeling. This helps to understand the hierarchy and also the descendants of the cells.

Tissue Explants

Earlier, experimental embryonic tissues were used for studying human development. The way these tissues behaved around the same or different embryos would be recorded. These recordings would be helpful to study the development process.


Genetics studies the cells controlling the developmental process. It checks the cells involved in the process of mutation and looks at the changes that occurred. If the altered cells result in defects then it can be assumed those cells are critical in the actual normal development process. Since the 80s, much development has been done in the area of adding and removing the cells to induce or remove certain features respectively. This has aided in the study of development.

The development cycles of various creatures are compared which will help us in charting the nature of inheritance and also the way inherited diseases propagate.

Functional Studies

Genetics allows us to study the functioning of the cells responsible for development through biochemical studies. This is very useful in learning about the ways of development.

Mathematical Modeling

Mathematical representations are created to stimulate the biological processes of development. Stimulated biological controls help to understand the behavior of the cells. Leaps in systems biology help us to further expand the capabilities of mathematical models.

Thus, these were the 7 techniques used for studying human development. Scientists use the methods which are more convenient for their test cases.

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