Anatomy of the Brain

anatomy of the brain

The adult human brain weighs on average about 1.2–1.4 kg (2.6–3.1 lb) which is about 2% of the total body weight, with a volume of around 1260 cm3 in men and 1130 cm3 in women. There is substantial individual variation, with the standard reference range for men being 1,180–1,620 g (2.60–3.57 lb) and for women 1,030–1,400 g (2.27–3.09 lb).

The cerebrum, consisting of the cerebral hemispheres, forms the largest part of the brain and overlies the other brain structures. The outer region of the hemispheres, the cerebral cortex, is grey matter, consisting of cortical layers of neurons. Each hemisphere is divided into four main lobes – the frontal lobe, parietal lobe, temporal lobe, and occipital lobe. Three other lobes are included by some sources which are a central lobe, a limbic lobe, and an insular lobe. The central lobe comprises the precentral gyrus and the postcentral gyrus and is included since it forms a distinct functional role.

The brainstem, resembling a stalk, attaches to and leaves the cerebrum at the start of the midbrain area. The brainstem includes the midbrain, the pons, and the medulla oblongata. Behind the brainstem is the cerebellum (Latin: little brain).

The cerebrum, brainstem, cerebellum, and spinal cord are covered by three membranes called meninges. The membranes are the tough dura mater; the middle arachnoid mater and the more delicate inner pia mater. Between the arachnoid mater and the pia mater is the subarachnoid space and subarachnoid cisterns, which contain the cerebrospinal fluid. The outermost membrane of the cerebral cortex is the basement membrane of the pia mater called the glia limitans and is an important part of the blood–brain barrier. The living brain is very soft, having a gel-like consistency similar to soft tofu. The cortical layers of neurons constitute much of the cerebral grey matter, while the deeper subcortical regions of myelinated axons, make up the white matter. The white matter of the brain makes up about half of the total brain volume.