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Understand white and grey matter with spinal cord diagrams and quizzes

So you’ve started the business of learning about the central nervous system and next up on the list is the spinal cord. Simply looking at the diagrams in your textbook has sent alarm bells ringing in your head: “Danger! Danger! This looks complicated!”. 

Don’t worry. In the article to follow, we’ve got you covered. We’ll be helping you to break down this (admittedly complex) topic step by step. First we’ll get an overview of the gross anatomy, focusing on the white and gray matter of the spinal cord. Then we’ll be using some spinal cord diagrams, labeling activities and quizzes to solidify your knowledge. Ready? Let’s go.

Download this fill in the blank diagram of the spinal cord below
Fill in the blank diagram of the spinal cord available to download below
  1. Spinal cord white and gray matter
  2. Revising with diagrams
    1. Spinal cord labeled
    2. Spinal cord unlabeled
  3. Accelerate your learning with quizzes
  4. Sources
+ Show all

Spinal cord white and gray matter

First of all: what is the spinal cord? The spinal cord, along with the brain, makes up the central nervous system (CNS). It is a long tubular structure comprised of nervous tissue, extending from the cervical to the lumbar region of the vertebral column. Just like other parts of the CNS, the spinal cord is comprised of white and gray matter.

Spinal cord gray matter is the central part of the spinal cord, which has a butterfly like appearance and is comprised of neuronal cell bodies. On the other hand spinal cord white matter surrounds the gray matter, lies externally and is made up of bundles of axons which connect the brain and the spinal cord with the rest of the body. Within the white matter we find neural pathways which are divided into three funiculi (bundles of nerve fibers): anterior, lateral, and posterior.

Unfortunately, things get a bit more complicated than that! To avoid getting confused, we recommend checking out our additional learning materials.

Revising with diagrams

An effective way to begin solidifying your memory and understanding of a new topic is to use labeled diagrams.

Spinal cord labeled

Take a look at the spinal cord cross section diagram below. Here you can see the white and gray matter of the spinal cord and the associated structures such as funiculi, lamina and tracts.

Thinking of the information you learned in the video, spend some time linking the location of the labeled structures with what you know about their function. Having a visual map (in this case, the spinal cord cross section diagram) of where structures lie in relation to one another can help you to remember their functions.

Spinal cord unlabeled

To see how well you’ve remembered, try the spinal cord labeling quiz below. Here you’ll simply fill in the blanks with the name of the structure corresponding to the diagram label. You can also download the spinal cord diagram labeled if you’d like to scribble and make notes before attempting the labeling activity. 

Accelerate your learning with quizzes

It’s unrealistic to expect to remember all of the ins and outs of a topic after simply watching a video and trying some labeling activities. Repetitive exposure and utilisation, on the other hand, is how we succeed in sending information into our long term memory for good.

That’s where the spinal cord quizzes from Kenhub come in. Inspired by the scientifically backed method of spaced repetition, these quizzes help you to learn from your mistakes by repeatedly exposing you to questions on the topics you’ve answered wrong. Thanks to this powerful feature, you can use our quizzes both to revise what you already know or to learn a topic from scratch.
Need to improve your identification skills? Try our basic and advanced structure identification quizzes. Got a clinical exam coming up? Start preparing early with our question banks. And if you want to improve your knowledge from every angle, look no further than our intelligent mix (a combination of every exercise type) or customizable spinal cord anatomy quizzes.
Ready to start quizzing? Check out our spinal cord quizzes below. Pssst… we suggest starting with this one on the spinal cord cross section!

Here are a few more learning materials that help you expand and actively quiz your knowledge:

Are you reaping the rewards of learning with spinal cord labeling activities and quizzes? Check out our free quiz guides on several more exam topics. 

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