Cerebral Anatomy

Fig 1. 0 - Anatomical position of the cerebrum.The cerebrum is the largest part of the brain, located superiorly and anteriorly in relation to the brainstem. It consists of two cerebral hemispheres (left and right), separated by the falx cerebri of the dura mater. Embryologically, the cerebrum is derived from the telencephalon.

In this article, we will look at the anatomy of the cerebrum – its structure, function, blood supply and the clinical implications of cerebral lesions.

Note: Some texts consider the basal ganglia to be part of the cerebrum. This is beyond the scope of this article.

Anatomical Position and Structure

Database Center for Life Science and BodyParts3D [CC BY-SA 2.1 jp], via Wikimedia Commons

The cerebrum is located within the bony cranium. It extends from the frontal bone anteriorly to the occipital bone posteriorly. Within the skull, the cerebrum fills the anterior and middle cranial fossae, and is located above the tentorium cerebelli inferoposteriorly.

Internal Structure

The cerebrum is comprised of two different types of tissue – grey matter and white matter:

  • Grey matter forms the surface of each cerebral hemisphere (known as the cerebral cortex), and is associated with processing and cognition.
  • White matter forms the bulk of the deeper parts of the brain. It consists of glial cells and myelinated axons that connect the various grey matter areas.

External Structure

Externally, the cerebrum has a highly convoluted appearance, consisting of sulci (grooves or depressions) and gyri (ridges or elevations). It is divided into two anatomically symmetrical hemispheres by the longitudinal fissure – a major sulcus that runs in the median sagittal plane. The falx cerebri (a fold of dura mater) descends vertically to fill this fissure. The two cerebral hemispheres are connected by a white matter structure, called the corpus callosum.

The main sulci are:

  • Central sulcus – groove separating the frontal and parietal lobes.
  • lateral sulcus – groove separating the frontal and parietal lobes from the temporal lobe.
  • Lunate sulcus – groove located in the occipital cortex.

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