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Brain: Arachnoid mater
The medulla spinalis and its membranes.
Diagrammatic representation of a section across the top of the skull, showing the membranes of the brain, etc.
Latin '
Gray's subject #193 876
Part of Meninges
BrainInfo/UW ancil-561
MeSH A08.186.566.166

The arachnoid mater is one of the three meninges, the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. It is interposed between the two other meninges, the more superficial dura mater and the deeper pia mater, and is separated from the pia mater by the subarachnoid space.

The delicate, spiderweb-like (therefore the name) arachnoid layer, attached to the inside of the dura, surrounds the brain and spinal cord but does not line the brain down into its sulci (folds). Cerebrospinal fluid flows under this membrane in the subarachnoid space, which is full of the delicate fibres of the arachnoid extending down to attach to the pia mater.

The portions covering the brain and spinal cord are called arachnoidea encephali and arachnoidea spinalis, respectively.

The arachnoid and pia mater are sometimes considered as a single structure, the leptomeninx, or the plural version, leptomeninges. (Lepto- from the root meaning thin in Greek). Similarly, the dura in this situation is called the pachymeninx.


Arachnoid is from a Greek root, and means cob web like. The mater designation (meaning mother in Latin) is borrowed from the dura mater and pia mater, which were Latin translations of Arabic terms. While mater does not technically belong with the arachnoid layer, it has nevertheless been adopted by it for uniformity with the other meninges, and arachnoid mater is currently the Terminologia Anatomica international standard.

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Spinal cord

epidural space, dura mater, subdural space, arachnoid mater, subarachnoid space, pia mater, denticulate ligaments, conus medullaris, cauda equina, filum terminale, cervical enlargement, lumbar enlargement, anterior median fissure, dorsal root, dorsal root ganglion, dorsal ramus, ventral root, ventral ramus, sympathetic trunk, gray ramus communicans, white ramus communicans

grey matter: central canal, substantia gelatinosa of Rolando, reticular formation, substantia gelatinosa centralis, interneuron, anterior horn, lateral horn, posterior horn (column of Clarke, dorsal spinocerebellar tract)

white matter: anterior funiculus: descending (anterior corticospinal tract, vestibulospinal fasciculus, tectospinal tract), ascending (anterior spinothalamic tract, anterior proper fasciculus)

lateral funiculus: descending (lateral corticospinal tract, rubrospinal tract, olivospinal tract), ascending dorsal spinocerebellar tract, ventral spinocerebellar tract, spinothalamic tract, lateral spinothalamic tract, anterior spinothalamic tract, spinotectal tract, posterolateral tract, lateral proper fasciculus, medial longitudinal fasciculus

posterior funiculus: fasciculus gracilis, fasciculus cuneatus, posterior proper fasciculus

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