Directions and Planes of Section
position and direction of brain structures are described with special
words. For example, we can say that the frontal lobe is
"rostral" to the occipital lobe.|
Because the brain is a three dimensional structure, any location in the brain can be localized on three planes - the x, y and z planes. The brain is can be cut on any of these planes and are named the coronal plane, the horizontal plane or the sagittal plane.
| The coronal plane, horizontal plane and sagittal plane are
shown in the figure on the right. The coronal plane is also called the
frontal plane. Slices of the brain taken in the coronal plane are similar
to the slices from a loaf of bread. Horizontal cuts are made as if you
were slicing a hamburger bun or bagel.
The sagittal plane divides the right and left side of the brain into parts. The midsagittal plane would divide the right and left sides of the brain into two equal parts, like cutting down the middle of a baked potato before you put on the toppings.
| The figures below show
the human brain in the three planes of section on "synthetic MR" images
produced by BrainWeb:|
Sagittal and horizontal sections from a real MRI:
While visiting a new city or country, people often bring along a map. Neuroscientists who study the brain also use maps to identify exactly what part of the brain they are examining. These maps of the brain are called stereotaxic atlases. Just like maps, stereotaxic atlases use words to describe direction. However, instead of "north", "south", "east" and "west", the following words are used to describe direction in the brain (and other parts of the body too):
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|The Washington University School of Medicine also discusses planes of section and has some excellent human brain coronal section images.|
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