Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Remote Ready Biology Learning Activities

Remote Ready Biology Learning Activities has 50 remote-ready activities, which work for either your classroom or remote teaching.

This web exhibit was first built in 2000 by Patricia Anne Kinser, Haverford College, under the direction of Paul Grobstein, Bryn Mawr College. The updated version of Comparative Neuroanatomy and Intelligence is now online at This old version has been archived in place, and will continue to be available for teachers and students who are using it.

Home Page

Compare Brains

Compare Brain and Body Sizes

Compare Brain Structures- Slices and Slides

The Neuron- Up Close and Personal

The Question of Intelligence




Directional Terms

brain with direction labels
Rostral/ Anterior ---> Head or front end
Caudal/ Posterior ---> Tail or hind end
Dorsal ---> Back or top side
Ventral ---> Belly or bottom side

Lateral ---> away from the midline
Medial ---> toward the midline
Proximal ---> closer
Distal ---> farther away

Three directional planes exist in the brain: rostral/caudal, dorsal/ventral, and medial/lateral. When sectioning (cutting) the brain, which planes are visible is determined by the type of section. In the sagittal section (which is made parallel to the midline, dorsal to ventral) the rostral/caudal and dorsal/ventral planes can be seen. In the coronal or cross section (made perpendicular to the midline, as if you're slicing a loaf of bread) the medial/lateral and dorsal/ventral planes can be seen. The images below shows the 3 different planes (axial, coronal, and sagittal) in which a brain can be sectioned:

planes of the brain

(image thanks to

(image thanks to

In addition, there are four possible views of the brain: lateral, medial, dorsal, and ventral. Lateral is from the side; medial is towards the midline (often from a sagittal section); dorsal is looking from above; and ventral is looking from below.

There are numerous specific parts of the brain that we could name and explore. The following is a list of structures within the four basic subdivisions of the brain:

Telencephalon: cerebral cortex, corpora striata (caudate nucleus, internal capsule, putamen), and rhinencephalon (e.g., olfactory bulb, hippocampus, amygdala, septal region, and cingulate cortex)
Diencephalon: thalamus, hypothalamus, pineal gland, and posterior lobe of the pituitary (a migrated portion of the hypothalamus)

Mesencephalon: corpora quadrigemia (tectum--inferior and superior colliculi), tegmentum

Metencephalon: cerebellum, pons
Myelencephalon: medulla oblongata

Brain Stem: pons, medulla, spinal cord.

Let's start slicing!!!!

Can you tell me more about these structures?

Why are we doing this?

| Forum | Brain and Behavior | Serendip Home |

Send us your comments at Serendip

© by Serendip 1994- - Last Modified: Wednesday, 02-May-2018 11:57:52 CDT