Cells in the neurogenic region of an insect ectoderm have two alternative fates, making neurons or epidermis. The fates seem to be determined through a laterally inhibitory interaction among cells. That is, initially homogeneous cells are all competent to differentiate into neuroblasts. Once a cell has differentiated as a neuroblast, it inhibits its immediate neighbors from following this pathway. The differentiation process is simulated by a digital computer in a planar array of polygonal domains similar to a cell pattern. We find that the number of cells differentiating as neuronal precursors in insect neurogenesis is that expected under the hypothesis of lateral inhibition of cell differentiation between immediate neighbors.

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