Directional terms in neuroscience

Anterior:

directional term that refers to the front of the body or brain.

 

Caudal:

directional term that means "towards the tail." At the level of the spinal cord, caudal indicates the direction that points down towards the feet. Above the junction of the brainstem and diencephalon, however, the term directs more specifically towards the back of the brain.

 

Contralateral:

on the other side (e.g. of the body).

 

Dorsal:

directional term that refers to the back. When used in reference to the nervous system, dorsal refers to the back when discussing the spinal cord. However, above the junction of the midbrain and diencephalon, dorsal refers instead to the upper or superior portion of the brain.

 

Inferior:

directional term that refers to the bottom end of the body (i.e. the feet) or the relative position of a structure as being below another and closer to the feet.

 

Ipsilateral:

on the same side (e.g. of the body).

 

Lateral:

directional term that refers to areas of the nervous system that are further away from the midline of the brain or spinal cord.

 

Medial:

directional term that refers to areas of the nervous system that are closer to the midline of the brain or spinal cord.

 

Midline of the brain:

an imaginary line that runs down the center of the brain, dividing the brain into right and left halves.

 

Posterior:

directional term that refers to the back of the body or brain.

 

Rostral:

directional term that means "towards the nose." At the level of the spinal cord, rostral indicates the direction that points upwards towards the head. Above the junction of the brainstem and diencephalon, however, the term directs more specifically towards the nose.

 

Superior:

directional term that refers to the top of the body (i.e. the head) or the relative position of a structure as being above another and closer to the top of the head.

 

Ventral:

directional term that refers to the front. When used in reference to the nervous system, ventral refers to the front when discussing the spinal cord. However, above the junction of the midbrain and diencephalon, ventral refers instead to the lower or inferior portion of the brain.