Section of the medulla oblongata at the level of the decussation of the pyramids

Decussation is used in biological contexts to describe a crossing (due to the shape of the Roman numeral for ten, an uppercase 'X' (decussis), from Latin decem 'ten', and as 'as'). In Latin anatomical terms, the form decussatio is used, e.g. decussatio pyramidum.

Similarly, the anatomical term chiasma is named after the Greek uppercase 'Χ' (chi). Whereas a decussation refers to a crossing within the central nervous system, various kinds of crossings in the peripheral nervous system are called chiasma.

Examples include:

In this "true bug", Dysdercus decussatus, in the family Pyrrhocoridae, the specific epithet refers to the bandolier-like markings on the back.

Evolutionary significance

The origin of the contralateral organization, the optic chiasm and the major decussations on the nervous system of vertebrates has been a long standing puzzle to scientists.[2] The visual map theory of Ramón y Cajal has long been popular[3][4] but has been criticized for its logical inconsistence.[5] More recently, it has been proposed that the decussations are caused by an axial twist by which the anterior head, along with the forebrain, is turned by 180° with respect to the rest of the body.[6][7]

See also


  1. ^ Jaeger, Edmund C. (1959). A source-book of biological names and terms. Springfield, Ill: Thomas. ISBN 0-398-06179-3.
  2. ^ Vulliemoz, S.; Raineteau, O.; Jabaudon, D. (2005). "Reaching beyond the midline: why are human brains cross wired?". The Lancet Neurology. 4 (2): 87–99. doi:10.1016/S1474-4422(05)00990-7. PMID 15664541. S2CID 16367031.
  3. ^ Ramón y Cajal, Santiago (1898). "Estructura del quiasma óptico y teoría general de los entrecruzamientos de las vías nerviosas. (Structure of the Chiasma opticum and general theory of the crossing of nerve tracks)" [Die Structur des Chiasma opticum nebst einer allgemeine Theorie der Kreuzung der Nervenbahnen (German, 1899, Verlag Joh. A. Barth)]. Rev. Trim. Micrográfica (in Spanish). 3: 15–65.
  4. ^ Llinás, R.R. (2003). "The contribution of Santiago Ramón y Cajal to functional neuroscience". Nat. Rev. Neurosci. 4 (1): 77–80. doi:10.1038/nrn1011. PMID 12511864. S2CID 30442863.
  5. ^ de Lussanet, M.H.E.; Osse, J.W.M. (2015). "Decussation as an axial twist: A comment on Kinsbourne (2013)" (PDF). Neuropsychology. 29 (5): 713–14. doi:10.1037/neu0000163. PMID 25528610. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2021-07-14. Retrieved 2020-01-01.
  6. ^ de Lussanet, M.H.E.; Osse, J.W.M. (2012). "An ancestral axial twist explains the contralateral forebain and the optic chiasm in vertebrates". Animal Biology. 62 (2): 193–216. arXiv:1003.1872. doi:10.1163/157075611X617102. S2CID 7399128.
  7. ^ Kinsbourne, M (Sep 2013). "Somatic twist: a model for the evolution of decussation". Neuropsychology. 27 (5): 511–15. doi:10.1037/a0033662. PMID 24040928.

Further reading