Anatomical Terms of Location for Neuroanatomy

Anatomical terminology can be tricky when it comes to neuroanatomy, especially when these terms are new to you in the first place.  In this post I hope to make the meaning of each term clear and provide useful examples.

I’ll start with positional terms (e.g. “anterior pituitary lobe,” “dorsal surface of the brain”) and then move on to planes (e.g. “a mid-sagittal slice of the CNS,” “coronal slices of the brain”).

In order to understand these terms for humans, in particular regard to neuroanatomy, we need to understand what the neuraxis looks like in humans.  Many of the terms are more intuitive when thought of in relation to a quadruped instead of an upright human.  You’ll learn about this further in the week on Neuroanatomy and embryonic development of the central nervous system.  As the image below shows, the neuraxis is a straight line in quadrupeds but has a bend in humans.  The direction of the neuraxis in the human head is perpendicular to the direction of the neuraxis in the human body.  This will become an important distinction.

Continue reading