Rationale for Labels and Abbreviations

No universally accepted way to identify specific features or structures in drawings or photographs exists. The variety of methods seen in currently available atlases reflects the personal preferences of the authors. Such is the case in the present endeavor. The goal of this atlas is to present basic functional and clinical neuroanatomy in an understandable and useful format.

Among currently available atlases, most figures are labeled with either the complete names of structures or with numbers or letters that are keyed to a list of the complete names. The first method immediately imparts the greatest amount of information; the second method is the most succinct. When using the complete names of structures, one must exercise care to not compromise the quality or size of the illustration, the number of structures labeled, or the size of labels used. Although the use of single letters or numbers results in minimal clutter on the figure, a major drawback is the fact that the same number or letter may appear on several different figures and designate different structures in all cases. Consequently, no consistency occurs between numbers and letters and their corresponding meanings as the reader examines different figures. This atlas uses a combination of complete words and abbreviations that are clearly recognized versions of the complete word.

In response to suggestions made by those using this book over the years, the number of abbreviations in the sixth edition has been reduced, and the number of labels using the complete name has been increased. Simultaneously, complete names and abbreviations have been used together in some chapters to the full advantage of each method. For example, structures are labeled on a brain slice by the complete name, but the same structure in the accompanying MRI is labeled with a corresponding abbreviation (see

Chapters 2 and 4). This uses the complete word(s) on the larger image of a brain structure while using the shorter abbreviation on the smaller image of the MRI.

The abbreviations used in this atlas do not clutter the illustration; they permit labeling of all relevant structures and are adequately informative while stimulating the thinking—learning process. The abbreviations are, in a very real sense, mnemonics. When learning gyri and sulci of the occipital lobe, for example, one realizes that the abbreviation "LinGy" in the atlas could only mean "lingual gyrus." It could not be confused with other structures in other parts of the nervous system. Regarding the pathways, "RuSp" could mean only "rubrospinal tract" and "LenFas," the "lenticular fasciculus." As the reader learns more and more terminology from lectures and readings, he or she will be able to use these abbreviations with minimal reference to the accompanying list. In addition, a subtle advantage of this method of labeling is that, as the reader looks at the abbreviation and momentarily pauses to ponder its meaning, he or she may form a mental image of the structure and the complete word. Because neuroanatomy requires one to conceptualize and form mental images to more clearly understand CNS relationships, this method seems especially useful.


Bruxton, RB. Introduction to Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Principles and Techniques. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. Grossman, CB. Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Computed Tomography of the Head and Spine. 2nd Ed. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins, 1996. Lee, SH, Roa, KCVG, and Zimmerman, RA. Cranial MRI and CT. 4th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Health Professions Division, 1999.

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