Pluripotent embryonic stem cells can give rise to neuroectodermal derivatives in culture. This potential could be harnessed to generate neurons and glia for cell-replacement therapies in the central nervous system and for use in drug discovery. However, current methods of neural differentiation are empirical and relatively innefficient. Here, we review these methodologies and present new tools for quantification, analysis and manipulation of embryonic stem cell neural determination.

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