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The prefrontal cortex has 3 parts:

  • Dorso prefrontal cortex
  • Ventro prefortal cortex
  • Orbital prefrontal cortex

What does dorso, and ventro mean?

I thought orbital means back?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Those are anatomical terms of location.

The orbits are the cavities in the skull that hold the eyes. You can easily remember this if you remember that an orbit, in English, is a circular object or path: the Moon orbits the Earth. So

  • "orbito-" means "towards the eyes", i.e. on the underside of the prefrontal cortex

In a four footed animal like a dog or horse

  • dorsal means towards the back (i.e. where a rider would sit on a horse)
  • ventral means towards the belly (underside)

Because human beings no longer walk on all fours, their neuraxis is bent, with the bend between the brain stem and the diencephalon:

  • in the torso and old brain parts, dorsal means towards the back, ventral towards the belly and face
  • in the cerebrum and diencephalon, dorsal means towards the top, ventral towards the bottom of the skull

Here is an illustration ("oder" means "or" in German):

enter image description here

I find English a bit confusing as to what the word "back" denotes. In other languages, like Latin, the words for the spinal side of the torso (dorsum, back) and the tail end of the body (posterior, back) are distinct. In English, they are the same, and this makes an explanation of these anatomical terms confusing in English.

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According to Wikipedia, the orbitofrontal cortex "gets its name from its position immediately above the orbits in which the eyes are located." Orbital does not mean "back."

Continuing from Wikipedia, Dorsum is Latin for "back," and, "Dorsal (posterior) means the back or toward the back of the body; behind." Venter is Latin for "belly," and as for "ventral", Merriam-Webster's definition 1b seems most pertinent: "Being or located near or on the anterior or lower surface of an animal opposite the back."


TL;DR version:

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