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Sulcus (neuroanatomy)

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Gray's Fig. 726– Lateral surface of left cerebral hemisphere, viewed from the side.


Gray's Fig. 727 - Medial surface of left cerebral hemisphere.

In neuroanatomy, a sulcus (pl. sulci) is a depression or fissure in the surface of the brain. It surrounds the gyri, creating the characteristic appearance of the brain in humans and other large mammals.

Large furrows (sulci) that divide the brain into lobes are often called fissures. The large furrow that divide the two hemispheres - the interhemispheric fissure - is very rarely called a "sulcus".

Individual variation

The sulcal pattern varies between human individuals, and the most elaborate overview on this variation is probably an atlas by Ono, Kubick and Abernathey: Atlas of the Cerebral Sulci[1]. Some of the larger sulci are, however, seen across individuals - and even species - so it is possible to establish a nomenclature.

Gyrification across species

The variation in the amount of fissures in the brain ("gyrification") between species is more related to the overall size of the animal rather than the encephalization. That is, large animals have many sulci:

"[L]arge rodents such as beavers (40 pounds) and capybaras (150 pounds) have many more sulci than smaller rodents such as rats and mice - but also more fissures than smaller monkeys"[2].

Notable sulci


A macaque has a more simple sulcal pattern. In a monograph Bonin and Bailey list the following as the primary sulci[3]:

See also


  1. Ono, Kubick, Abernathey, Atlas of the Cerebral Sulci, Thieme Medical Publishers, 1990. ISBN 0865773629. ISBN 3137321018.
  2. Martin I. Sereno, Roger B. H. Tootell, "From Monkeys to humans: what do we now know about brain homologies," Current Opinion in Neurobiology 15:135-144, (2005).
  3. Gerhardt von Bonin, Percival Bailey, The Neocortex of Macaca Mulatta, The University of Illinois Press, Urbana, Illinois, 1947

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