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Neuroscience For Kids

The Coverings of the Brain (Meninges)

There are several layers of tissue that separate your brain from the outside world. First, there is your skin (scalp). Beneath the skin is bone (your skull). Below the skull are three special coverings called the meninges. You may have heard of the illness called meningitis. Meningitis is an infection of the meninges.

The outer layer of the meninges is called the dura mater or just the dura. The dura is tough and thick and it can restrict the movement of the brain within the skull. This protects the brain from movements that may stretch and break brain blood vessels.

The middle layer of the meninges is called the arachnoid. The inner layer, the one closest to the brain, is called the pia mater or just the pia.

The Meninges


Here is an easy way to remember the order of the meninges:

"The meninges PAD the brain." -- Pia; Arachnoid; Dura.

Did you know?

  • The word "arachnoid" comes from the Greek words "arachne" and "-oid" which mean "spider-like." The arachnoid was not discovered until 1664 by the Dutch anatomist Gerardus Blasius.
  • The word "Arachne" which means "spider" comes from Greek mythology. According to the myth, a girl named Arachne was an excellent weaver. She challenged the Greek goddess Athena to a weaving contest. When Arachne wove a beautiful, perfect tapestry, Athena broke Arachne's loom and turned her into a spider.

For more information about the meninges, see:

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