Basic Human Neuroanatomy
A Clinically Oriented Atlas 

Preface to 6th Edition

As I wrote in the preface to the first edition of Basic Human Neuroanatomy, this book was written for one purpose – to be used by students.  The objectives of the book remain unchanged.  As in previous editions, my goal is to provide an inexpensive book that will meet the needs of a range of students including undergraduates, students in paramedical programs, medical students, graduate students, and residents studying for board examinations.  The photographs in the Atlas (Part IV) are again labeled in a manner that allows and encourages self-study, self-testing, and review.  I encourage students to refer regularly to the illustrations in Part IV when studying the text in Parts I, II, and III (and vice versa).  Used in this way, the book can be helpful in the laboratory as well as at home for self-study and review. 

With this edition, Basic Human Neuroanatomy becomes predominantly an electronic book, although it also remains available as a hard copy book if the reader prefers.  This affords several advantages:  (1) Unlike a traditional book, most of the figures and illustrations are in color without dramatically increasing the cost of the book.  (2) The reader can enlarge the figures to appreciate detail that may be difficult to discern at lower magnification.  (3) The book may be loaded onto any portable electronic device that can display a portable document format (PDF) file, as well as a standard desktop or laptop computer.  (4) Updates, additions, and other changes will be posted on a website accessible to purchasers of the book,, as they become available without the delay involved in the publication of a new edition.  (5) Additional learning material, including clinical-anatomical case studies, examination questions arranged in a pretest and post-test format, and PowerPoint slide sets, will be available to those with access to the website.

As in prior editions, the book has four parts.  The first is a brief review of the organization of the nervous system with a fairly comprehensive presentation of the cranial nerves.  The second part of the book is a concise summary, in outline form, of the major functional neuroanatomical pathways.  Pathway diagrams and other illustrations accompany each sensory and motor pathway.  The third part summarizes the vasculature of the central nervous system, again in outline form, supplemented by illustrations of the arteries and veins of the brain and spinal cord with cerebral angiograms placed opposite the illustrations for comparison and clinical correlation.  The fourth part of the book is an atlas of the human brain and spinal cord with CT and MRI scans placed opposite the brain sections for clinical correlation.

I have revised Part II in order to present new information and current concepts concerning several of the neuroanatomical pathways.  Several of the diagrams have been revised, ten new illustrations have been added, and all of the figures are now in color.  In Part III, all of the illustrations are also in color.  In the Atlas (Part IV), only 28 of the 64 photographs of the brain remain in black and white.  These are among the photographs included in the early editions, when color prints were not obtained.  Most of the MRI scans in this part of the book have been updated.  As in prior editions, I would encourage students to correlate structures seen in the brain sections with those clearly visible in the MRI and CT scans that are placed opposite them.  Likewise, I encourage students to study the illustrations placed opposite the photographs of the transverse sections of the spinal cord and brain stem.  These illustrations define the position, extent, and relationships of many of the tracts and nuclei in the spinal cord and brain stem.  Students may find it helpful to color-code the different pathways and nuclei in sequential spinal cord and brain stem sections to facilitate self-study and to develop a three-dimensional understanding of the pathways and structures in different regions of the brain and spinal cord.

Correct and appropriate neuroanatomical terminology matters, especially for the beginning student.  The process of developing a simple, consistent, logical, and internationally acceptable anatomical nomenclature began in 1895 with the Basle Nomina Anatomica (B.N.A.).  In 1950, the International Anatomical Nomenclature Committee (IANC) was formed at the Fifth International Congress of Anatomists in Oxford, England.  The IANC produced six editions of the Nomina Anatomica between 1955 and 1989.  In 1989, the Federative Committee on Anatomical Terminology (FCAT) was formed and published the Terminologia Anatomica: International Anatomical Terminology in 1998.  Although some inconsistencies remain, the thrust of all of these efforts has been to produce a more logical and informative set of terms describing the structures of the human body, including the nervous system.  This process eliminated the last of the eponyms in 1955, since they offer no information concerning the structure to which they are attached and are often historically inappropriate.  The terminology throughout Basic Human Neuroanatomy adheres to the final edition of the Nomina Anatomica as adopted by the IANC in 1989 and to the Terminologia Anatomica adopted by the FCAT in 1998.  I urge all members of the medical community – students, teachers, and clinicians – to utilize this internationally adopted nomenclature to facilitate the transition to a uniform, logical, and informative terminology.  During my career, I was fortunate to study under and teach with several members of the IANC (Professors Elizabeth C. Crosby, Russell T. Woodburne, Thomas M. Oelrich, and Ronan O’Rahilly), and they inspired me to promote the acceptance and use of correct anatomical nomenclature.


Since the first edition of this book was published in 1974, many people have contributed to the evolution and refinement of the subsequent five editions.  I am indebted to my colleagues, Vijaya K. Kumari, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., and Ronan O’Rahilly, M.D., D.Sc., with whom I taught in the first year neuroanatomy course when we were all in the Department of Human Anatomy, University of California, Davis, School of Medicine.  Their thoughtful suggestions and criticisms were most helpful and appreciated.  Most of the pathway diagrams found in Part II were developed jointly with Dr. Kumari, and Dr. O’Rahilly was an invaluable resource concerning correct anatomical nomenclature.  In addition, Dr. O’Rahilly provided me with two brain stem sections originally belonging to our friend and colleague, the late Professor Ernest Gardner; and Dr. Kumari obtained permission from James W. Geddes, Ph.D., Department of Psychobiology, University of California, Irvine, to use the coronal section of the hippocampal formation – all of which first appeared in the fourth edition.  I thank the many students and residents who were kind enough to take the time and effort to review previous editions of the book and make suggestions for this edition.  I also wish to thank Dr. Surl Nielsen, neuropathologist at Sutter Community Hospital and U.C. Davis, School of Medicine, for his help in the procurement and processing of new brain sections for several editions and for providing me with neuropathology slides for the case studies.  Dr. William Keyes, neuroradiologist at Sutter Community Hospital, was helpful in obtaining the new angiograms, which first appeared in the fourth edition.  Lastly, I am grateful to my long time friend and colleague, Dr. Nazhiyath Vijayan, Professor Emeritus, Department of Neurology, University of California, Davis, School of Medicine, for his encouragement, advice, and assistance concerning everything from clinical neurology to digital photography.

In the fall of 1966, I was a teaching assistant in a graduate level human anatomy course offered by my first mentor in anatomy, Stanley G. Stolpe, Ph.D., Professor of Physiology, at the University of Illinois.  One evening, a student in the course, Robert P. Barber, who was also a medical photographer, and I prepared a series of coronal sections of the cerebrum and transverse sections of the brain stem, stained them using the LeMasurier modification of the Mulligan stain, and photographed them (see references by Mulligan and Northcutt for a full description of the solutions and technique involved in this simple surface stain for macroscopic brain sections).  These sections formed the core of the Atlas in the first edition, and 10 of them remain in the present edition (Figures 102-108, 115-117).  The remainder of the photographs of the brain for the first three editions were prepared by George Lepp, who is now an internationally acclaimed wildlife photographer.  Gabriel Unda provided photographic work for the subsequent three editions. 

The illustrations for the first three editions of the book were prepared by Celeste Wardin and George Newton.  Beginning with the fourth edition, almost all of the illustrations were redrawn and several new illustrations were added.  Most of these new illustrations were carried forward into the fifth and sixth editions.  Special gratitude and admiration is extended to Craig Farris (formerly Craig Hillis) for his painstaking creation of all of the illustrations in these editions.  For the present (6th) edition, several of the illustrations were revised, and ten new illustrations were added.  In addition, all of the images were converted to the digital format, and all of the photographs of the brain were labeled anew.  These tasks, plus the production layout and the cover design, were all accomplished with exquisite care, skill, and talent by Amie Dozier, BFA.  Her involvement in this project is immensely appreciated.

The editorial assistance of Wayne Muller and Jaime Watson is also greatly appreciated.  The first five editions of Basic Human Neuroanatomy were published by Little, Brown & Company.  I would like to thank the many professionals with whom I had the pleasure of working for their enthusiasm, support, and assistance in this ongoing project.  We now turn a new page in the life of this book, and, in view of the additional clinical material included in the book and on the website, I have altered the title of the book slightly to Basic Human Neuroanatomy: A Clinically Oriented Atlas.

Website Builder