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Caudate nucleus

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Brain: Caudate nucleus
Two views of a model of the striatum: A, lateral aspect; B, medial aspect.
Horizontal section, basal ganglia is blue
Latin nucleus caudatus
Gray's subject #189 833
Part of
BrainInfo/UW hier-208
MeSH A08.186.211.730.885.105.487.550.184

The caudate nucleus is a telencephalic nucleus, one of the input nuclei of the basal ganglia involved with control of voluntary movement in the brain.

There is a caudate nucleus on each side of the brain, each a C-shape structure with a wider head at the front, tapering to a body and a tail.

The head and body of the caudate nucleus form the part of the floor of the anterior horn of the lateral ventricle. After the body travels briefly towards the back of the head, the tail curves back toward the anterior, forming the roof of the inferior horn of the lateral ventricle. This means that a coronal (on the same plane as the face) section that cuts through the tail will also cross the body (or head) of the caudate nucleus.

The caudate nucleus is related anatomically to a number of other structures. It is separated from the lenticular nucleus (made up of the globus pallidum and the putamen) by the internal capsule. Together the caudate and putamen form the striatum.


The caudate nucleus is highly innervated by dopamine neurons. These neurons originate mainly from the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and the substantia nigra pars compacta (SN). There are also additional inputs from various association cortices.

Caudate Function

Learning and Memory

Historically, the basal ganglia as a whole has been implicated in higher-order motor control (eg, [1]). More recently, it has been demonstrated that the caudate is highly involved in learning and memory [2], particularly regarding feedback processing [3]. In general, it has been demonstrated that neural activity will be present within the caudate while an individual is receiving feedback.

Language Comprehension

The left caudate in particular has been suggested to have a relationship with the thalamus that governs the comprehension and articulation of words as they are switched between languages. [4] [5]


  1. Wilson SAK. 1912. An experimental research into the anatomy of the corpus striatum. Brain 36:427-92
  2. Graybiel AM (2005) The basal ganglia: learning new tricks and loving it. Curr Opin Neurobiol 15:638-644.
  3. Packard MG, Knowlton BJ (2002) Learning and memory functions of the Basal Ganglia. Annu Rev Neurosci 25:563-593.
  4. "How bilingual brains switch between tongues" at
  5. "Language Control in the Bilingual Brain " at

External links

Telencephalon (cerebrum, cerebral cortex, cerebral hemispheres) - edit

primary sulci/fissures: medial longitudinal, lateral, central, parietoöccipital, calcarine, cingulate

frontal lobe: precentral gyrus (primary motor cortex, 4), precentral sulcus, superior frontal gyrus (6, 8), middle frontal gyrus (46), inferior frontal gyrus (Broca's area, 44-pars opercularis, 45-pars triangularis), prefrontal cortex (orbitofrontal cortex, 9, 10, 11, 12, 47)

parietal lobe: postcentral sulcus, postcentral gyrus (1, 2, 3, 43), superior parietal lobule (5), inferior parietal lobule (39-angular gyrus, 40), precuneus (7), intraparietal sulcus

occipital lobe: primary visual cortex (17), cuneus, lingual gyrus, 18, 19 (18 and 19 span whole lobe)

temporal lobe: transverse temporal gyrus (41-42-primary auditory cortex), superior temporal gyrus (38, 22-Wernicke's area), middle temporal gyrus (21), inferior temporal gyrus (20), fusiform gyrus (36, 37)

limbic lobe/fornicate gyrus: cingulate cortex/cingulate gyrus, anterior cingulate (24, 32, 33), posterior cingulate (23, 31),
isthmus (26, 29, 30), parahippocampal gyrus (piriform cortex, 25, 27, 35), entorhinal cortex (28, 34)

subcortical/insular cortex: rhinencephalon, olfactory bulb, corpus callosum, lateral ventricles, septum pellucidum, ependyma, internal capsule, corona radiata, external capsule

hippocampal formation: dentate gyrus, hippocampus, subiculum

basal ganglia: striatum (caudate nucleus, putamen), lentiform nucleus (putamen, globus pallidus), claustrum, extreme capsule, amygdala, nucleus accumbens

Some categorizations are approximations, and some Brodmann areas span gyri.


de:Nucleus caudatus

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