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Coronal section of the brain (thalamus level)

Learning objectives

This study unit will teach you how to:

  1. Identify the gray and white matter structures seen on a coronal section of the brain at the level of the thalamus.
  2. Learn the relations of the structures of the brain that are seen on a coronal section of the brain at the level of the thalamus.
  3. Familiarize yourself with the anatomy of the most common view of the brain in CTs and MRIs.

Watch video

Coronal and horizontal sections of the brain at different levels provide the best overview of the subcortical structures found deep to the cerebral cortex, that otherwise cannot be seen from the outside. A coronal section of the brain is a vertical slice of the brain made in the coronal plane, or in other words, parallel to the coronal suture of the skull, dividing the brain into anterior and posterior halves. This section is one of the most common perspectives that is used in imaging techniques for the examination of the brain. Thus, knowing the anatomy of this section will help you identify the brain structures in brain CTs and MRIs.

In a coronal section of the brain at the level of the thalamus, the most external part of the brain is composed of the cortical gray matter (gyri and sulci). Just below the cortical gray matter we see the white matter that is formed by the axons of the neurons that are located in the gray matter. The white matter occupies most of the subcortical area and forms bundles that “connect” the two hemispheres (such as corpus callosum and the fornix) and tracts that connect different regions of the brain in one hemisphere (such as the internal, external and extreme capsules).

Deep in the white matter, there are subcortical gray matter masses, which also contain neuronal bodies as in the cortex. The main subcortical gray matter structures that are seen at this level are, of course, the thalamus, which is the biggest of those structures, the basal ganglia (the caudate nucleus, the putamen and the globus pallidus), the hippocampus and other smaller structures (the claustrum, the subthalamic nucleus and the substantia nigra).

Watch the following video to find out more about all of these structures and how they relate to each other as seen on the coronal section of the brain.

Take a quiz

Take the following quiz to test and consolidate your knowledge about the features seen on the coronal section of the brain!

Try out our fully customizable quiz below and tailor it to your own needs by creating your own selection of structures to be quizzed on.

Browse atlas

In this gallery, take a better look at each structure that is visible on the coronal section of the brain at the thalamus level!


Structures visible on the coronal section of the brain (thalamus level)
Gray matter Thalamus, basal ganglia (caudate nucleus, putamen, globus pallidus), hippocampus, claustrum, subthalamic nucleus, substantia nigra
White matter Body of corpus callosum, body of fornix, posterior limb of internal capsule, external capsule, extreme capsule
Miscellaneous Central part and temporal horn of lateral ventricle of the brain, third ventricle of the brain, optic tract, mammillary bodies

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