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Anatomy of the neurocranium.

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Hey everyone! It’s Matt from Kenhub, and in this tutorial we will discuss the neurocranium. The skull is a jigsaw puzzle of irregular bones and very specific puzzle edges that combine to form a masterpiece. The main areas of the skull – loosely termed – are the face and the head. Anatomically and developmentally, they are known as the viscerocranium which is the facial skeleton and the neurocranium which is made of the frontal bone, the sphenoid bone, the two parietal bones, the two temporal bones, and the occipital bone. This tutorial will highlight the key points of the neurocranium and elaborate on the bones and adjacent anatomical structures which surround it.

The primary functions of the neurocranium are to form the shape of the head and to protect the brain and the organs that control the five senses – the eyes, the ears and the areas of the brain that control touch, taste and smell. The frontal bone creates the smooth curvature of the forehead and protects the frontal lobe of the brain especially the ethmoid bones horizontal plate known as the cribriform plate which allows the olfactory nerve bundles to pass through its perforated surface and bring the ceiling of the nasal cavity its sense of smell.

The parietal bones are situated at the crown of the skull and provide a roof over part of the anterior, the entire middle, and some of the posterior cranial fossae which contain the various lobes of the brain along with the sinuses, the meninges and their corresponding vessels. The parietal bones form articulations with the frontal bone anteriorly with the sphenoid bone anterolaterally forming the sphenoparietal suture with the temporal bone posterolaterally forming the squamosal suture and posteriorly with the occipital bone forming the lambdoid suture. The two bones also anchor to each other at the midline forming the sagittal suture.

The occipital bone is the most posterior superior bone of the neurocranium. It creates the rounded bulb of the head at the nape of the neck and covers the cerebellum at the brainstem and a bony capsule. The sphenoid bone is in a unique position because it is surrounded anteriorly by the frontal bone, superiorly by the parietal bone, and posteriorly as well as laterally by the temporal bone. The sphenoid borders the anterior and middle cranial fossae with its most prominent feature being the sella turcica which holds the hypophysis.

The temporal bones are some of the most complex bones of the skull due to their various positions. The temporal bones form part of the middle and posterior cranial fossae and their most important feature is that they encapsulate the auditory and vestibular organs.

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