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Gyrus and sulcus.
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 (Latin: "furrow", 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 divides 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 related to the size of the animal and the size of the brain. Mammals that have smooth-surfaced or nonconvoluted brains are called lissencephalics and those that have folded or convoluted brains gyrencephalics.[2][3] The division between the two groups occurs when cortical surface area is about 10 cm2 and the brain as a volume of 3-4 cm3. Large rodents such as beavers (40 pounds) and capybaras (150 pounds) are gyrencephalic and smaller rodents such as rats and mice lissencephalic[4].

Brain development

In humans, cerebral convolutions appear at about 5 months and take at least into the first year after birth to fully develop.[5][2][3]

Notable sulci

Subcallosal sulcus, lat. sulcus corporis callosi

Superior temporal sulcus, lat. sulcus temporalis superior

Inferior temporal sulcus, lat. sulcus temporalis inferior

Parieto-occipital sulcus, lat. sulcus parietoocipitalis

Intraparietal sulcus, lat. sulcus intraparietalis

Collateral sulcus, lat. sulcus collateralis

Calcarine sulcus, lat. sulcus calcarinus



A macaque has a more simple sulcal pattern. In a monograph Bonin and Bailey list the following as the primary sulci[6]:

See also


  1. ^ Ono, Kubick, Abernathey, Atlas of the Cerebral Sulci, Thieme Medical Publishers, 1990. ISBN 0-86577-362-9. ISBN 3-13-732101-8.
  2. ^ a b Hofman MA. (1985). Size and shape of the cerebral cortex in mammals. I. The cortical surface. Brain Behav Evol. 27(1):28-40. PMID 3836731
  3. ^ a b Hofman MA. (1989).On the evolution and geometry of the brain in mammals. Prog Neurobiol.32(2):137-58. PMID 2645619
  4. ^ 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).
  5. ^ Caviness VS Jr. (1975). Mechanical model of brain convolutional development. Science. 189(4196):18-21. PMID 1135626
  6. ^ Gerhardt von Bonin, Percival Bailey, The Neocortex of Macaca Mulatta, The University of Illinois Press, Urbana, Illinois, 1947

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