International Neuroanatomical Terminology


The Federative International Programme for Anatomical Terminology
A programme of the International Federation of Associations of Anatomists (IFAA)


Bibliographic Reference Citation
FIPAT.   Terminologia Neuroanatomica.  FIPAT.library.dal.ca.  Federative International Programme for Anatomical Terminology, February 2017

Published pending approval by the General Assembly at the next Congress of IFAA (2019).

Creative Commons License
The publication of Terminologia Neuroanatomica is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-ND 4.0) license.

The individual terms in this terminology are within the public domain.  Statements about terms being part of this international standard terminology should use the above bibliographic reference to cite this terminology.  The unaltered PDF files of this terminology may be freely copied and distributed by users.  IFAA member societies are authorized to publish translations of this terminology.  Authors of other works that might be considered derivative should write to the Chair of FIPAT for permission to publish a derivative work.



The TNA is a recent revision of the terminology on the Central Nervous System (CNS; Systema nervosum centrale), the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS; Systema nervosum periphericum) and the Sensory Organs (Organa sensuum) [1]. These were abstracted from the Terminologia Anatomica [2] and the Terminologia Histologica [3] and were extensively updated by the FIPAT Neuroanatomy Working Group, and merged to form a Terminologia Neuroanatomica (TNA). Because of its clinical and functional significance, the TNA includes the blood supply to the CNS (Vasa sanguinea encephali and Vasa sanguinea medullae spinalis) to ensure it contains a more or less complete list of terms for the human nervous system. The document is divided into three chapters (see below). The official FIPAT terms are in Latin. This enables translation into any vernacular, in the present instance English. The Latin terms have been reviewed by members of the FIPAT Latin Subcommittee.

The following general notes outline the major changes in the CNS Section:
(1) Throughout the document, the subdivision of Neurons proposed by Bota and Swanson [4] is used, following the Brain Architecture Management System (BAMS; http://brancusi.usc.edu/bkms), and including Sensory neurons, Interneurons (Short and Long) and Motoneurons. The Short interneurons are subdivided into Excitatory and Inhibitory interneurons. The category Interneuron longiaxonicum comprises the Interneurons that are usually described as Projection, Commissural and Association neurons.
(2) For the White matter tracts, the Foundation Model of Connectivity [5] is followed for a better presentation. The following subdivision is used: (a) Radices centrales (Central roots) for the Cranial and Spinal nerve roots within the CNS; (b) Tractus proprii (Intrinsic tracts) remaining within a certain compartment of the CNS such as the Spinal cord;( c) Tractus commissurales (Commissural connections); and (d) Tractus longi (Longitudinal tracts) divided into Tractus ascendentes, Tractus efferentes cerebelli and Tractus descendentes.
(3) A Section Vasa sanguinea is added, a modernized version of the relevant part of the TA Section Systema cardiovasculare. Clinical subdivisions of the Arteria carotis interna (C1-C7), Arteria cerebri anterior (A1-A5), Arteria cerebri media (M1-M4), Arteria vertebralis (V1-V4) and Arteria cerebri posterior (P1-P4) are added. For consistency, it is advocated to return to PNA/NA terms for the Arteriae cerebelli and the Venae cerebri.
(4) For the Spinal cord, the order of presentation is changed from Posterior (Dorsal) to Anterior (Ventral) to be consistent with the presentation of the Rexed layers from I-X, and for consistency with other sections. The known Typi neurales (Neuron types) are added and the Substantia alba (White matter) is subdivided into Radices centrales, Tractus proprii and Tractus longi (Tractus ascendentes and Tractus descendentes).
(5) For the Brain stem, the various nuclei are rearranged according to their connectivity, following the third edition of Olszewski and Baxter [6]: Nuclei somatosensorii, Nuclei viscerosensorii, Nuclei vestibulares, Nuclei acustici, Nuclei somatomotorii, Nuclei branchiomotorii, Nuclei visceromotorii, Nuclei reticulares, Nuclei neuromodulatorii (Serotonergic, Adrenergic, Noradrenergic, Cholinergic and Dopaminergic cell groups), Nuclei limbici and Nuclei precerebellares. The TA Section Aggregationes cellularum chemergicarum is replaced to where these terms belong: Brain stem, Diencephalon, Hypothalamus, Basal forebrain and Olfactory bulb. The Substantia alba is subdivided into Radices centrales, Tractus proprii and Tractus longi (Tractus ascendentes, Tractus efferentes cerebelli and Tractus descendentes).
(6) For the Mesencephalon, the following subdivision is used: Pedunculus cerebri (the Long corticofugal fibres), Tegmentum mesencephali (including the Substantia nigra and the Ventral tegmental area), Substantiae centrales mesencephali and Tectum mesencephali.
(7) In the Section Cerebellum, the terminology of the Lobuli is simplified, the Zonal, sagittal organization of Corticonuclear projections is introduced and the composition of the Pedunculi cerebellares is added.
(8) A more natural hierarchical classification of brain structures is used for the Prosencephalon (Forebrain) as implemented in the revised version of the Terminologia Embryologica (TE2). The Forebrain is subdivided into the Caudal prosencephalon, giving rise to the Caudal diencephalon (Pretectum, Thalamus with Epithalamus, and Prethalamus), and a Rostral prosencephalon, giving rise to the Hypothalamus (Rostral diencephalon) and the entire Telencephalon. The Telencephalon is divided into the Pallium and the Subpallium (Striatum, Pallidum, Basal forebrain and Preoptic area). For practical reasons, the Preoptic area is listed following the Hypothalamus.
(9) The Diencephalon in its classic, columnar view was divided into four dorsoventrally arranged columns separated by ventricular sulci: the Epithalamus, the Dorsal thalamus, the Ventral thalamus and the Hypothalamus. Extensive embryological studies made it clear that the thalamic ‘columns’ are derived from transversely oriented zones, the Prosomeres (see TE2). Currently, the (Caudal) Diencephalon is subdivided into three segmental units, which from caudal to rostral, contain in their alar domains the Pretectum (Prosomere 1 or P1), the Epithalamus and the Thalamus (P2) and the Ventral thalamus or Prethalamus (P3). The diencephalic basal plate (P1-P3) contains the rostral part of the Substantia nigra – VTA complex and the Nucleus interstitialis (Nucleus of Cajal), the Nucleus interstitialis rostralis fasciculi longitudinalis medialis, and the Nucleus ellipticus (Nucleus of Darkschewitsch), collectively forming the Diencephalic or Prerubral tegmentum between the Mesencephalon and the Hypothalamus. The entire Hypothalamus arises from the alar and basal components of the Secondary prosencephalon. The Preoptic area is one of the subpallial developmental domains.
(10) For the Thalamic nuclei, a new subdivision based on Hirai  and Jones [7] and updated by Morel et al. [8] is introduced.
(11) The description of the Morphologia externa (External features) of the Cerebral hemisphere is extended, including many newly discovered subdivisions. Macroscopically visible Olfactory structures are included here. A more extensive discussion of the Allocortex is provided.
(12) The description of the Morphologia interna (Internal features) of the Cerebral cortex follows the embryological subdivision of the Pallium into four parts. The Pallium dorsale gives rise to the Isocortex or Neocortex, the Pallium laterale to the Claustro-insular complex, the Pallium mediale to the Formatio hippocampi and the Pallium ventrale to the Olfactory cortex and the Pallial amygdala. Where possible, Typi neurales are added, starting from the TH terminology. Isocortical neurons are subdivided into Pyramidal neurons (Projection, Commissural and Association neurons) and Excitatory and Inhibitory interneurons. For the Inhibitory, mainly GABAergic, interneurons, the Petilla terminology [9] is introduced. The terminology of Fibrae associationes telencephali has been modernized, implementing DTI studies.
(13) Under the heading Subpallium, the Corpus amygdaloideum, the Pars basalis telencephali proprii and the Nuclei basales are listed with Typi neurales and Substantia alba.

The following general notes outline the major changes in the PNS Section:
(1) The Terminationes effectoriae (Effector nerve endings) and Receptores sensorii (Sensory receptors) were added to the Nomina generalia of PNS, and not treated as a separate Section. Some terms were taken from the Section Integumentum commune or the Systema musculare.
(2) All Communicating branches that are readily apparent and all those known to have functional significance are included. Any Communicating branches that are difficult to demonstrate or have no known function are deleted. The Communicating branches are listed as branches of the nerve at their central (proximal) end. Following the proposal of the Informatics Working Group [10], their naming is simplified, eliminating prepositions (ad and cum); TA terms are added as Related terms.
(3) Branches of Parasympathetic ganglia are listed in the Section Divisio autonomica (Autonomic nervous system), although some are mixed nerves.
(4) To the Section Pars thoracolumbalis, the Pars sympathica of the Divisio autonomica, two additional Subsections are added to include other parts of the Autonomic division that contain sympathetic neurons and postganglionic sympathetic fibres: (a) The Ganglia paravertebralia of the Thorax and Abdomen; and (b) Perivascular plexuses and their branches that contain postganglionic fibres.
(5) The Section Pars craniosacralis, the Pars parasympathica of the Divisio autonomica, includes three subdivisions that contain parasympathetic ganglia and nerve branches that contain parasympathetic fibres to visceral organs: (a) Cranial parasympathetic ganglia and their branches; (b) the two Vagal trunks and their branches; and (c) the Pelvic splanchnic nerves. The Pelvic ganglia are replaced in the Section Plexus viscerales because they are not classic parasympathetic ganglia.
(6) The Section Plexus viscerales includes Visceral plexuses that contain sympathetic and parasympathetic fibres and small ganglia associated with these plexuses. These ganglia were formerly considered parasympathetic ganglia, but have been shown to contain also many neurons that are not classically sympathetic or parasympathetic.
(7) The Plexus entericus was separated from the Plexus viscerales et ganglia visceralia of TA because this intramural plexus of the digestive canal is usually considered a nervous system separate from the Autonomic or Peripheral nervous system: the Systema nervosum entericum (Enteric nervous system). As this Plexus is located within organs of the Digestive system.


  1. Ten Donkelaar HJ et al.  2017.  Towards a Terminologia Neuroanatomica.  Clin Anat, in press.
  2. FCAT 1998.  Terminologia Anatomica.  Stuttgart: Thieme.
  3. FICAT 2008.  Terminologia Histologica.  Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
  4. Bota M, Swanson LW 2007. The neuron classification problem. Brain Res Rev 56:79-88
  5. Swanson LW, Bota M 2010. Foundation model of structural connectivity in the nervous system with a schema for wiring diagrams, connectome, and basic plan architecture. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 107:20610-20617
  6. Büttner-Ennever JA, Horn AKE, eds, 2014. Olszewski and Baxter’s Cytoarchitecture of the Human Brainstem, 3rd ed. Karger, Basel
  7. Hirai T, Jones EG 1989. A new parcellation of the human thalamus on the basis of histochemical staining. Brain Res Rev 14:1-34
  8. Morel A, Magnin M, Jeanmonod D 1997. Multiarchitectonic and stereotactic atlas of the human thalamus. J Comp Neurol 387:618-677
  9. DeFelipe J et al. 2013 New insights into the classification and nomenclature of cortical GABAergic interneurons. Nat Rev Neurosci 9:557-568
  10. Neumann PE, Baud R, Sprumont P 2016. Human anatomy nomenclature rules for the computer age. Clin Anat, in press

Hans J. ten Donkelaar
Coordinator TNA



FIPAT wishes to thank the Dalhousie University Libraries for covering the costs of publication, and all the institutions, sections, departments, Societies and Associations that materially and financially supported its members in their work.

FIPAT meetings were held in conjunction with and thus assisted by the 18th Congress of the International Federation of Associations of Anatomists [Beijing, August 8-10, 2014], the 24th International Symposium on Morphological Sciences [Istanbul, September 2-6, 2015] and the 111th Meeting of the Anatomische Gesellschaft [Göttingen, September 21-24, 2016].

FIPAT wishes to thank the following Experts/Consultants who assisted the TNA Working Group during its deliberations: Karl Zilles, Heiko Braak, Jean A. Büttner-Ennever, Axel Brehmer and Jürgen Mai [Germany]; Jan Voogd, Henk J. Groenewegen, Tom J.H. Ruigrok, Ronald Bleys, Hans Cruysberg and Rudolf Nieuwenhuys [The Netherlands]; Jean Schoenen [Belgium]; Gunnar Grant [Sweden]; Ricardo Insausti [Spain]; Marina Quartu and Roberto Fadda [Italy]; Rastislav Druga and David Kachlik [Czech Republic]; Marco Catani [UK]; Andras Csillag [Hungary]; Maciej Ciolkowski [Poland]; Clifford B. Saper, Duane E. Haines, Matthew Carlson and Gordon M. Shepherd [USA]; Frank Smith and Rob Brownstone [Canada]; with the aid and support of the Officers of FIPAT [John Fraher (Chairman), Pierre Sprumont (Secretary) and Paul E. Neumann (Deputy Secretary)] and the Latin Subcommittee [John Fraher (Ireland), Paul E. Neumann, Pierre Sprumont (Switzerland), and Alessandro Riva].

While the individuals acknowledged here gave expert advice, the final Terminology is the responsibility of FIPAT.

Neuroanatomy Working Group

  • Hans J. ten Donkelaar, Coordinator [The Netherlands]
  • Jonas Broman [Sweden]
  • Paul E. Neumann [Canada]
  • Luis Puelles [Spain]
  • Alessandro Riva [Italy]
  • R. Shane Tubbs [USA]




  • Title
  • License
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgements
  • Contents
  • User Guide

Chapter 1. Systema nervosum centrale (Central nervous system)

  • Textus nervosus
  • Meninges
  • Vasa sanguinea cerebrospinalia
  • Medulla spinalis
  • Encephalon (Truncus encephali, Cerebellum et Prosencephalon)

Chapter 2. Systema nervosum periphericum (Peripheral nervous system)

  • Nervi craniales
  • Nervi spinales
  • Divisio autonomica

Chapter 3. Organa sensuum (Sense organs)

  • Organum olfactorium
  • Organum visuale (Oculus)
  • Organum vestibulocochleare (Auris)
  • Organum gustatorium