brain stem The most caudal part of the brain, linking the cerebrum with the spinal cord and consisting of the midbrain, pons, and medulla.

cerebellum The brain structure posterior to the brain stem, the major divisions of which are the laterally placed cerebellar hemispheres and the midline vermis.

cerebrum The paired cerebral hemispheres and diencephalon, which are located rostral to the brain stem and cerebellum.

cortex A thin sheet of neurons and synapses that constitutes the outermost layer of the cerebral hemispheres.

gray matter One of the major types of brain tissue, consisting of neuronal cell bodies and synapses found in either the cortex or the subcortical nuclei.

neuron An excitable cell that serves as the basic functional unit of the nervous system because of its capacity to transmit information electrically.

synapse The point of contact between neurons at which a chemical signal from one neuron influences the excitability of another.

ventricles A series of cavities within the brain—the paired lateral ventricles, the third ventricle, and the fourth ventricle—filled with cerebrospinal fluid.

white matter The term used to describe tracts of myelinated axons responsible for providing structural and functional links between gray matter areas.

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