Ventricles of the brain

Author: Scott A. Sheffield MS

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The image descriptionventricles of the brain are the four cavities containing cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Namely, they are:

  • Two lateral ventricles, often called the first and second ventricles
  • Third ventricle
  • Fourth ventricle

The ventricles are connected to each other and to the central canal of the spinal cord, comprising the ventricular system of the brain.

Labeled diagram showing the ventricles of the brain.
Diagram: Ventricles of the brain

Lateral ventricles

The image descriptionlateral ventricles are C-shaped cavities, each located in the corresponding cerebral hemisphere. Each ventricle has a central part that is continued by three horns. The horns are named according to the brain lobe they extend to: frontal horn, temporal horn and occipital horn.

Lateral ventricles contain a patch of specialized tissue called the choroid plexus. This plexus produces cerebrospinal fluid. Each ventricle is connected with the third ventricle via the interventricular foramen of Monro. The CSF passes through this foramen in order to reach the third ventricle.

Learn and understand the different parts of the brain with this comprehensive, step-by-step quiz guide.

Lateral ventricles of the brain.
Lateral ventricles of the brain.

Third ventricle

The third ventricle is located in the midline of the brain, in the diencephalon. The third ventricle is very narrow, looking like a slit on coronal sections of the brain. It consists of the floor, roof, as well as anterior, posterior and lateral walls.

The third ventricle features four recesses, named according to the part of the diencephalon they relate to: supraoptic, infundibular, suprapineal and pineal. The third ventricle also contains the choroid plexus, actively participating in CSF production. It is connected with each lateral ventricle via the foramen of Monro, but also with the fourth ventricle via the cerebral aqueduct of Sylvius.

The third ventricle of the brain.
The third ventricle of the brain.

Fourth ventricle

The fourth ventricle of the brain is located between the dorsal side of the pons and ventral side of the cerebellum. It looks like a tent whose tip is facing the cerebellum, with a lateral recess extending on each side.

The fourth ventricle communicates with the subarachnoid space via these openings:

  • Each lateral recess features the lateral aperture of Luschka that opens into the subarachnoid space of the brain
  • The lower part of its roof features the median aperture of Magendie, opening in the subarachnoid pontine cistern
  • The most inferior part of the lateral features a narrow opening called the obex, via which the CSF reaches the central canal of the spinal cord
Fourth ventricle of the brain.


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