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Horizontal section of the brain

Learning outcomes

After you complete this study unit, you will be able to:

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

Watch video

A horizontal section of the brain is a slice of the brain made in the axial plane that divides the brain into superior and inferior parts. Like the coronal section, the horizontal section provides a great overview of the white and grey matter structures found deep within the brain, underneath the cerebral cortex. In addition, the horizontal section is particularly good for getting a visual of the ventricular system of the brain. This section is one of the most commonly used perspectives 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 the horizontal section of the brain, the most external part is the cortical gray matter (gyri and sulci) of the brain lobes. Found just below the cortical grey matter is the white matter, which is formed by the axons projected from the neurons found in the grey matter. The axons of white matter sometimes form bundles that “connect” the two hemispheres (such as the corpus callosum and fornix), or tracts that connect different regions of the nervous system(such as the internal, external and extreme capsules).

Embedded in the white matter are several subcortical grey matter masses, which also contain neuronal bodies as in the cortex. The main subcortical grey matter structures seen on the horizontal section are the thalamus and the basal ganglia (caudate nucleus, globus pallidus and putamen).

Last but not least, in this section of the brain we can see two of the four brain ventricles, particularly the third and lateral ventricle. The ventricles of the brain are a set of interconnected cavities that produce, store and transport the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) around the cranial cavity.

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

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Browse atlas

Get a closer view on all the individual structures in the gallery below!

Summary

Structures visible on the horizontal section of the brain
Gray matter Thalamus, basal ganglia (caudate nucleus, putamen, globus pallidus), hippocampus, claustrum
White matter Genu and splenium of corpus callosum
Column and crus of fornix
Anterior limb, genu, posterior limb and retrolentiform part of internal capsule
External capsule
Extreme capsule
Miscellaneous Frontal and occipital horn of lateral ventricle of the brain, choroid plexus of lateral ventricle of the brain, third ventricle of the brain, habenula, pituitary gland, septum pellucidum, hippocampus

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