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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 image below shows the 3 different planes (axial, coronal, and sagittal) in which a brain can be sectioned:

planes of the brain

(image thanks to www-psych.stanford.edu/~kalina/BB)

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?