2-Minute Neuroscience: The Meninges
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  • Release Date: 2024-05-13
  • brain
  • nervous system
  • spinal cord
Video Introduction

The term meninges comes from the Greek for membrane and refers to 3 membranes that surround the brain and the spinal cord: the dura mater, the arachnoid mater, and the pia mater. The meninges protect and provide structural support for the brain as well as contain cerebrospinal fluid.

The outermost layer of the meninges is the dura mater, which literally means “hard mother.” This thick and tough layer adheres to the skull on one side and the arachnoid mater on the other side. The dura provides the brain and spinal cord with an extra protective layer, attaches the brain to the skull and the spinal cord to the vertebral column to keep them from being jostled around, and provides a system of veinous drainage through which blood can leave the brain.

The arachnoid mater gets its name because it has the consistency and appearance of a cobweb. It is much less substantial than the dura. Strands of connective tissue called arachnoid trabeculae stretch between the arachnoid and pia mater. These help to suspend the brain in place. Between the arachnoid and pia mater there is also an area known as the subarachnoid space, which is filled with cerebrospinal fluid.

The pia mater is a thin layer that closely follows the contours of the brain. It forms a tight membrane around the brain and spinal cord, acting as an an additional barrier and aiding in the secretion and containment of cerebrospinal fluid. Blood vessels are held against the pia mater by connective tissue before they penetrate the brain.

There is a space between the dura of the spinal cord and the bone of the vertebral column known as the epidural space; analgesics and anesthesia are sometimes administered here. Also, the dura and arachnoid mater extend several vertebrae below the end of the spinal cord, creating a cerebrospinal fluid-filled area called the lumbar cistern where there is no spinal cord present. Cerebrospinal fluid can be withdrawn from here because a needle can be inserted with little risk of damaging the spinal cord. Thus, the lumbar cistern is the site where cerebrospinal fluid is aspirated in a lumbar puncture, also known as a spinal tap. This is done, for example, to diagnose meningitis, a potentially life-threatening inflammation of the meninges. [1]

  1. Nolte J. The Human Brain: An Introduction to its Functional Anatomy. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA. Elsevier; 2009.
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Challenged, N. 2-Minute Neuroscience: The Meninges. Encyclopedia. Available online: https://encyclopedia.pub/video/video_detail/1242 (accessed on 26 May 2024).
Challenged N. 2-Minute Neuroscience: The Meninges. Encyclopedia. Available at: https://encyclopedia.pub/video/video_detail/1242. Accessed May 26, 2024.
Challenged, Neuroscientifically. "2-Minute Neuroscience: The Meninges" Encyclopedia, https://encyclopedia.pub/video/video_detail/1242 (accessed May 26, 2024).
Challenged, N. (2024, May 13). 2-Minute Neuroscience: The Meninges. In Encyclopedia. https://encyclopedia.pub/video/video_detail/1242
Challenged, Neuroscientifically. "2-Minute Neuroscience: The Meninges." Encyclopedia. Web. 13 May, 2024.
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