Vertebrate Central Nervous System


The central nervous systems of all vertebrate species share a great many features, including the spinal cord and the four major components of the brain.

Keywords: nervous system; vertebrates; anatomy; histology; microscopy

Figure 1.

Diagram of the lateral aspect of a generalized vertebrate brain. In a rostrocaudal sequence the viewer may discern the olfactory bulb (ob), the telencephalon (t), diencephalon (d), from which emerge the epiphysis (ep) dorsally and the hypophysis (hy) ventrally, the optic tectum (ot) of the dorsal mesencephalon, and the cerebellum (cb). In mammals, the telencephalon is considerably larger and covers the diencephalon and mesencephalon.

Figure 2.

Diagram depicting three stages in the formation of the neural tube, as seen in transverse sections of a generalized vertebrate embryo. (a) Dorsal to the notochord (nt), the neural plate (np) differentiates from the ectoderm (ec) which is separated from the endoderm (en) by loosely organized mesenchyme. (b) The lateral margins of the neural plate rise up and curve medially to form neural groove, and from them the cells of the neural crest (nc) begin to separate. (c) The margins of the neural groove (ng) have fused medially to form the neural tube (nt), of which the central canal (cc) persists into adult life. The mesenchyme has begun to differentiate into somites.


Further Reading

Butler AB and Hodos W (1996) Comparative Vertebrate Neuroanatomy: Evolution and Adaptation. New York: Wiley‐Liss.

Carroll RL (1988) Vertebrate Paleontology and Evolution. San Francisco: WH Freeman.

Gould SJ (1996) Full House. New York: Harmony Books.

Hergueta S, Lemire M, Ward R et al. (1995) Interspecific variation in the Chelonian primary visual system. Journal for Brain Research 36: 171–193.

Kenigfest NB, Repérant J, Rio J‐P et al. (1998) Retinal and cortical afferents to the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus of the turtle Emys orbicularis. A combined axonal tracing, glutamate and GABA immunocytochemical electron microscopic study. Journal of Comparative Neurology 391: 470–490.

Nieuwenhuys R, ten Donkelaar HJ and Nicholson C (1997) The Central Nervous System of Vertebrates. New York: Springer.

Northcutt RG (1995) The forebrain of gnathostomes: in search of a morphotype. Brain, Behavior and Evolution 46: 275–319.

Ulinski PS (1983) Dorsal Ventricular Ridge: A Treatise on Forebrain Organization in Reptiles and Birds. New York: John Wiley.

Ward R, Repérant J, Hergueta S, Miceli D and Lemire M (1995) Ipsilateral visual projections in non‐eutherian species: random variation in the central nervous system? Brain Research Reviews 20: 155–170.

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How to Cite close
Ward, Roger(Apr 2001) Vertebrate Central Nervous System. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0000785]