||What it really means:|
|Rostral / Anterior||Head or front end|
|Caudal / Posterior||Tail or hind end|
|Dorsal||Toward the back|
|Ventral||Toward the belly|
|Superior||Above the midline|
|Inferior||Below the midline|
|Lateral||Away from the midline|
|Medial||Toward the midline|
In order to explore the brain we first need to understand some vocabulary for describing the positions and locations of various structures in relation to other structures. The table to the right lists some common directional terminology.
Since the brain is three-dimensional, any point or structure in the brain can be identified on three planes: the horizontal plane, the sagittal plane, and the coronal plane. A horizontal section (or slice) of the brain separates the top from the bottom. A sagittal section separates left from right. The midsagittal plane equally divides the left and right hemispheres of the brain. A coronal section of the brain separates the front from the back. The images below show the three planes in which a brain can be sectioned.
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.
Would you like to learn more about the specific structures in the brain, or would you rather start slicing?