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Grey matter

Grey matter
The formation of the spinal nerve from the dorsal and ventral roots. (Grey matter labeled at center right.)
Latin substantia grisea
Dorlands/Elsevier s_27/12766773

Grey matter (or gray matter) is a major component of the central nervous system, consisting of nerve cell bodies, glial cells (astroglia and oligodendrocytes), capillaries, and short nerve cell extensions/processes (axons and dendrites).



It is composed of cell bodies as opposed to white matter (cell axons). It has a grey brown color which comes from the capillary blood vessels and the neuronal cell bodies.


Grey matter is distributed at the surface of the cerebral hemispheres (cerebral cortex) and of the cerebellum (cerebellar cortex), as well as in the depth of the cerebral (thalamus; hypothalamus; subthalamus, basal ganglia - putamen, globus pallidus, nucleus accumbens; septal nuclei), cerebellar (deep cerebellar nuclei - dentate nucleus, globose nucleus, emboliform nucleus, fastigial nucleus), brainstem (substantia nigra, red nucleus, olivary nuclei, cranial nerve nuclei) and spinal grey matter (anterior horn, lateral horn, posterior horn).


The function of grey matter is to route sensory or motor stimulus to interneurons of the CNS in order to create a response to the stimulus through chemical synapse activity. Research has shown that the amount of grey matter in a brain is positively correlated with human intelligence[1], except in the case of those with autism spectrum disorders[2].

Grey matter structures (cortex, deep nuclei) process information originating in the sensory organs or in other grey matter regions. This information is conveyed via specialized nerve cell extensions (long axons), which form the bulk of the cerebral, cerebellar, and spinal white matter.


  1. ^ Relationships between IQ and Regional Cortical Gray Matter Thickness in Healthy Adults
  2. ^ Autistic Children May Have Abnormal Functioning of Mirror Neuron System

See also

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Grey_matter". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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