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Cell division, movement and differentiation contribute to pattern formation in developing tissues. This is the case in the vertebrate neural tube, in which neurons differentiate in a characteristic pattern from a highly dynamic proliferating pseudostratified epithelium. To investigate how progenitor proliferation and differentiation affect cell arrangement and growth of the neural tube, we used experimental measurements to develop a mechanical model of the apical surface of the neuroepithelium that incorporates the effect of interkinetic nuclear movement and spatially varying rates of neuronal differentiation. Simulations predict that tissue growth and the shape of lineage-related clones of cells differ with the rate of differentiation. Growth is isotropic in regions of high differentiation, but dorsoventrally biased in regions of low differentiation. This is consistent with experimental observations. The absence of directional signalling in the simulations indicates that global mechanical constraints are sufficient to explain the observed differences in anisotropy. This provides insight into how the tissue growth rate affects cell dynamics and growth anisotropy and opens up possibilities to study the coupling between mechanics, pattern formation and growth in the neural tube.