Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan

Pyramidal System

  • Christina R. MarmarouEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_356


Lateral corticospinal tract; Upper motor neurons


The pyramidal tract is a major efferent (outgoing) bundle of motor neurons that originates in the sensorimotor area of the cerebral cortex, descends through the internal capsule and into the brain stem to synapse in the spinal cord. The pyramidal tract transmits signals that function to control voluntary movements.

Current Knowledge

Overall Function

The pyramidal (or corticospinal) tract controls voluntary motor activity, primarily of the limbs, as well as modulation of sensory input through ascending sensory pathways (Berne and Levy 2000). The fibers of the corticospinal tract control somatic motor activity.

Pyramidal Tract Pathway

The pyramidal tract projects from the motor cortex to lower motor neurons that are located in the ventral horn of the spinal cord. One third of the cells of origin are located in the primary motor cortex (precentral gyrus of the frontal lobe (Brodman’s area 4)) and anterior paracentral...

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References and Readings

  1. Berne, R. M., & Levy, M. N. (2000). Principles of physiology. St. Louis: Mosby.Google Scholar
  2. Fix, J. (1995). Neuroanatomy. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins.Google Scholar
  3. Haines, D. E. (2000). Neuroanatomy. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.Google Scholar
  4. Haines, D. E. (2004). Neuroanatomy: An atlas of structures, sections, and systems. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkens.Google Scholar
  5. Kandel, E. R., Schwartz, J. H., & Jessel, T. M. (1991). Principles of neuroscience. Norwalk: Appleton and Lange.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.NeurosurgeryVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA