Ways to View the Brain: the “nervous system” (including the brain) has several orientational directions. (Fisch, 4) It is common to combine terms. For example, a structure may be described as 'dorso-lateral,' which means that it is located 'up and to the side.' (Kolb, 39) A variety of terms is used for different directions and planes of section in the nervous system. (Blumendfeld, 16) Most "computerized tomography" and "magnetic resonance imaging" devices are two-dimensional 'slices' through the brain. (Blumenfeld, 86)
Axis: a straight line through a body or figure that satisfies certain conditions. (NCIt) Plural - ‘axes.’
Axes - Anterior to Posterior: superior, inferior, anterior, and posterior (descriptions) are consistent throughout the nervous system; that is, top is always superior, (bottom is always inferior) etc. (Fisch, 4) These terms do not label structures according to their importance, just their location. (Kolb, 39)
Anterior + Posterior
Anterior: horizontal axis (like the ‘x-axis’). Front. Situated near the front of the body, or nearer to the head, forepart, etc.; in the case of humans. (Oxford) In “human anatomy,” has to do with the front of a structure, or a structure found toward the front of the body. (NCIt) Structures located near the front of the brain. (Kolb, 39)
Inferior: vertical axis (like the ‘y-axis’). Bottom. Occasionally, the terms superior and inferior are used to refer to structures that are located "dorsally" or "ventrally." (Kolb, 39) Pertaining to a point below a given reference point. (NCIt)
Posterior: horizontal (like the ‘x-axis’). Back. Those (structures) located toward the back of the brain. (Kolb, 39) In human anatomy, has to do with the back of a structure, or a structure found toward the back of the body. At or near the hind end in ‘quadrupeds’ or toward the spine in “primates.” (NCIt)
Superior: vertical axis (like the ‘y-axis’). Top. Located above. (Kolb, 39) Pertaining to a point above a given reference point. (NCIt)
Axes - Rostral to Caudal: dorsal, ventral, rostral, and caudal (descriptions) vary according to a structure’s position in relation to the “midbrain.” Above the midbrain the orientation used is similar to that used with animals whose nervous system is linear in orientation. Below the midbrain there is a rotation (of each axis) of 90 degrees (clockwise). (This is because, in humans) the nervous system makes a bend of nearly 90 degrees somewhere between the “forebrain” and the “spinal cord.” (Blumenfeld, 16)
Rostral + Caudal Ventral + Dorsal
Caudal: toward the tail (proceeding to a lower position; the opposite of rostral). (Patestas, 4) Constituting or relating to a tail; situated near the tail. (NCIt) Editor’s note - from the Latin word for ‘tail.’
Above the midbrain, caudal = posterior.
Below the midbrain, caudal = inferior.
Dorsal: pertaining to the back or upper surface of the body; opposite of “ventral.” (NCIt) Structures found on the top of the human brain or on the top of some other structure within the brain. (Kolb, 39) Editor’s note - from the Latin word for ‘back’ as in the location of a shark’s fin. Indicating ‘toward the sky.’
Above the midbrain, dorsal = superior.
Below the midbrain, dorsal = posterior.
Rostral: toward the snout. (Blumenfeld, 16) Toward the nose, proceeding toward a higher position; the opposite of caudal. (Patestas, 4) Toward the muzzle in the head. (NCIt) Editor’s note - from the Latin word for ‘beak.’
Above the midbrain, rostral = anterior.
Below the midbrain, rostral = superior.
Ventral: pertaining to the underside or lower surface of the body; opposite of dorsal. (NCIt) Structures located toward the bottom of the human brain or one of its parts. (Kolb, 39) Editor’s note - from the Latin word ‘venter’ for ‘beak.’ Indicating ‘toward the earth.’
Above the midbrain, ventral = inferior.
Below the midbrain, ventral = anterior.
Brain Surfaces: editor’s note: views of the brain from the top and bottom and from a sagittal plane of section.
Lateral: located toward the sides. (Kolb, 39) Situated at or relating to the side of an organ or organism. Relating to the region or parts of the body that are furthest from the "medial" plane. In the “sagittal plane." (OxfordMed) Surfaces of the brain (especially of the "cerebrum”) seen from above and from the side. (Fisch, 273)
Medial: relating to or situated in the central region of an organ, tissue, or the body. Relating to or denoting the parts of the body that are closest to the median plane of the body. (OxfordMed) Structures found toward the brain's midline. (Kolb, 39) Surfaces of the brain (especially of the “cerebrum”) seen from a “sagittal” perspective (Fisch, 273) Noun - ‘median.’ Also referred to as ‘medial aspect.’
Undersurfaces: surfaces of the brain (especially of the “cerebrum”) seen from below. (Fisch, 274) For example, undersurface of the “frontal lobe.”
Planes of Section: one of three different plans of section used when the nervous system is imaged “radiologically.” (Blumenfeld, 17)
Coronal: pertaining to a plane containing a line parallel to the long axis of the subject's body and in addition presenting anterior and posterior views on each side of it. This plane is perpendicular to both the “transaxial" and “sagittal.” (NCIt) Comes from the sectioning plane approximating that of a ‘tiara-like’ crown. (Blumenfeld, 17)
Horizontal: parallel to or in the plane of the horizon. (NCIt) Sections are parallel to the floor. (Blumenfeld, 17) Also referred to as ‘axial’ and 'transverse.’
Oblique: slanting or inclined in direction or course or position; neither parallel nor perpendicular nor right-angular. (NCIt) Sections that lie between the three principal planes. (Blumenfeld, 17)
Sagittal Plane: sections are in the direction of an arrow shot. (Blumenfeld, 17) Parallel to the length (from front to back) of the skull; used in reference to a plane. (Kolb, 39) A ‘sagittal section’ is a side view. (This view is seen) if we cut down the brain’s midline, we divide the “cerebrum” into its two hemispheres. (Kolb, 45) Pertaining to a plane containing a line parallel to the long axis of the subject's body, and additionally giving a left or right view. This plane is perpendicular to both the transaxial and coronal planes. (NCIt)
Midsagittal: sagittal sections passing through the midline. (Blumenfeld, 17)
Parasagittal: sagittal sections just off the midline. (Blumenfeld, 17)
Transaxial Plane: across (i.e. perpendicular to) the axial direction. When describing the plane of an image, it indicates the plane perpendicular to the long axis of the subject's body. (NCIt)
Transverse Plane: a horizontal surface or plane perpendicular to a vertical axis. (NCIt)