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Grey matter
Spinal nerve
The formation of the spinal nerve from the dorsal and ventral roots. (Gray matter labeled at center right.)
Latin substantia grisea
Gray's subject #
System
MeSH [1]
Micrograph showing grey matter, with the characteristic neuronal cell bodies (right of image - dark shade of pink), and white matter with its characteristic fine meshwork-like appearance (left of image - lighter shade of pink). HPS stain.

Grey matter (or gray matter) is a major component of the central nervous system, consisting of neuronal cell bodies, neuropil (dendrites and unmyelinated axons), glial cells (astroglia and oligodendrocytes) and capillaries. Grey matter contains neural cell bodies, in contrast to white matter, which does not and mostly contains myelinated axon tracts.[1] The color difference arises mainly from the whiteness of myelin. In living tissue, grey matter actually has a grey-brown color, which comes from capillary blood vessels and neuronal cell bodies.[2]

FunctionEdit

Grey matter is made up of neuronal cell bodies. The grey matter includes regions of the brain involved in muscle control, sensory perception such as seeing and hearing, memory, emotions, and speech.

DistributionEdit

Grey matter is distributed at the surface of the cerebral hemispheres (cerebral cortex) and of the cerebellum (cerebellar cortex), as well as in the depths of the cerebrum (thalamus; hypothalamus; subthalamus, basal ganglia - putamen, globus pallidus, nucleus accumbens; septal nuclei), cerebellar (deep cerebellar nuclei - dentate nucleus, globose nucleus, emboliform nucleus, fastigial nucleus), brainstem (substantia nigra, red nucleus, olivary nuclei, cranial nerve nuclei) and spinal grey matter (anterior horn, lateral horn, posterior horn).

ResearchEdit

Volume and cognition in elderly peopleEdit

Significant positive correlations have been found between grey matter volume in elderly persons and measures of semantic and short-term memory. No significant correlations with white matter volume were found. These results suggest that individual variability in specific cognitive functions that are relatively well preserved with ageing is accounted for by the variability of gray matter volume in healthy elderly subjects.[3]

Volume associated with bipolar disorderEdit

Some structural differences in grey matter may be associated with psychiatric disorders. There was no difference in whole-brain grey matter volume between patients with bipolar I disorder and healthy controls. Subjects with bipolar I disorder had smaller volumes in the left inferior parietal lobule, right superior temporal gyrus, right middle frontal gyrus, and left caudate. Only the volume of the right middle frontal gyrus was correlated with duration of illness and the number of episodes in patients.[4]

Effects of smokingEdit

Older smokers lose grey matter and cognitive function at a greater rate than non-smokers. Chronic smokers who quit during the study lost fewer brain cells and retained better intellectual function than those who continued to smoke.[5]

Effects of child abuseEdit

Adolescents who were subjected to abuse and neglect appear to have decreased gray matter in the prefrontal cortex.[6]

See alsoEdit

Additional imagesEdit

References Edit

  1. Purves, Dale, George J. Augustine, David Fitzpatrick, William C. Hall, Anthony-Samuel LaMantia, James O. McNamara, and Leonard E. White (2008). Neuroscience. 4th ed., 15–16, Sinauer Associates.
  2. Kolb & Whishaw: Fundamentals of Human Neuropsychology (2003) page 49
  3. Taki, Y., Kinomura, S., Sato, K., Goto, R., Wu, K., Kawashima, R., & Fukuda, H. Correlation between gray/white matter volume and cognition in healthy elderly people.. Brain and Cognition. URL accessed on 2011-04-21.
  4. Li, M., Cui, L., Deng, W., Ma, X., Huang, C., Jiang, L., & ... Li, T. Voxel-based morphometric analysis on the volume of gray matter in bipolar I disorder. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging. URL accessed on 2011-04-21.
  5. Almeida, Osvaldo Smoking causes brain cell loss and cognitive decline. NeuroImage. URL accessed on 2011-04-21.
  6. http://news.yale.edu/2011/12/05/past-abuse-leads-loss-gray-matter-brains-adolescents-0

External linksEdit


Spinal cord

epidural space, dura mater, subdural space, arachnoid mater, subarachnoid space, pia mater, denticulate ligaments, conus medullaris, cauda equina, filum terminale, cervical enlargement, lumbar enlargement, anterior median fissure, dorsal root, dorsal root ganglion, dorsal ramus, ventral root, ventral ramus, sympathetic trunk, gray ramus communicans, white ramus communicans

grey matter: central canal, substantia gelatinosa of Rolando, reticular formation, substantia gelatinosa centralis, interneuron, anterior horn, lateral horn, posterior horn (column of Clarke, dorsal spinocerebellar tract)

white matter: anterior funiculus: descending (anterior corticospinal tract, vestibulospinal fasciculus, tectospinal tract), ascending (anterior spinothalamic tract, anterior proper fasciculus)

lateral funiculus: descending (lateral corticospinal tract, rubrospinal tract, olivospinal tract), ascending dorsal spinocerebellar tract, ventral spinocerebellar tract, spinothalamic tract, lateral spinothalamic tract, anterior spinothalamic tract, spinotectal tract, posterolateral tract, lateral proper fasciculus, medial longitudinal fasciculus

posterior funiculus: fasciculus gracilis, fasciculus cuneatus, posterior proper fasciculus


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Mesencephalon (midbrain)

cerebral peduncle: midbrain tegmentum (periaqueductal gray, ventral tegmentum, nucleus raphe dorsalis), pretectum, substantia nigra, red nucleus, pedunculopontine nucleus, medial longitudinal fasciculus, medial lemniscus, rubrospinal tract, lateral lemniscus

tectum: corpora quadrigemina, inferior colliculi, superior colliculi

cerebral aqueduct: oculomotor nucleus, trochlear nucleus, Edinger-Westphal nucleus

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