Biology Science

Difference between Grey and White Matter




  • Main Difference

    The human brain may seem like a small place, but it has many functions and parts that help in the processing. To make all this happen, better understanding and proper information are required, and that gets provided in this article. The main difference between the terms getting discussed here is white matter and gray matter. White Matter gets defined as the tissue of the brain and spinal cord that is pale in color and consists mostly of nerve fibers that have myelin sheath around. Grey Matter gets identified as the major component of the human brain that has several nucleon bodies, neuropil, and other parts that help in working on body parts.

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    Comparison Chart

    Basis of Distinction White Matter Grey Matter
    Definition The tissue of the brain and spinal cord that is pale in color and consists mostly of nerve fibers that have myelin sheath around The major component of the human brain that has several nucleon bodies, neuropil, and other parts that help in working on body parts.
    Distinction The main constituent of axons and keeps all the gray matter parts together. A pinkish-grey color and contains cell bodies such as axons, dendrites, and other fluids.
    Percentage 60% 40%
    Color Becomes visible because of the myelin sheath. Becomes visible because of axons.
    Purpose Helps in the transmission of this information from the brain to other regions of the body. Processing and connections between data and the body parts take place.
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    White Matter

    White Matter gets defined as the tissue of the brain and spinal cord that is pale in color and consists mostly of nerve fibers that have myelin sheath around. It is commonly found in the deeper tissues of the brain and contains nerve fibers that have extensions of the nerve cell. As explained above, most of them have a covering around them to protect the axons, and the white color is because of the myelin sheath that not only acts as a coating but also gives the distinction to such matter. The speed of transmission gets faster, and the brains move stronger whenever an injury takes place. It also comes with some damage precautions, mostly it occurs in people at a young age and gets known as the white matter disorders. MRI scans are the ones that help in diagnosing what the problem is and have different tissue levels. The most common reason for something going wrong is that the myelin sheath is not grown properly so does not protect the critical parts of the brain. Initially, people assumed that it does not have any role in the brain and therefore no research was done to know the exact extent. It is the fastest of two matter present in the spinal cord and help in connecting others parts, so they stay in touch. It stays in the brain and is perhaps the lowest surface but keeps all its connections and passages lined together to perform critical tasks.

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    Grey Matter

    Grey Matter gets defined as the major component of the human brain that has several nucleon bodies, neuropil, and other parts that help in working on body parts. It is considered the more important of the two matters present and comes with several functions. Advanced research has become part of it, and therefore several new things come into notice. The type of fat that is present within the myelin sheath but for the gray matter, the actual color originates from the cell bodies of neurons and the brain cells that become known as glial cells. Such cells provide energy and nutrition to the neurons, and hence the gray color becomes part of the system. Most of the times it gets referred to as the neurons and other cells present in the central nervous system and is part of brain, brainstem, cerebellum and inside the spinal cord. It is distributed equally around the parts and therefore performs all tasks in a particular order. It also gets known as a gray column that starts from the brain and moves down to the spinal cord and gets divided into three main columns that exist in H shape. The first one gets known as the anterior gray column, which contains motor neurons and becomes responsible for the movements of muscles. Then the posterior gray column comes, which receive information and sent it to the parts of the body. The last one is the lateral gray column and does not have any significant function except for connecting the others.

    Key Differences

    • White Matter gets defined as the tissue of the brain and spinal cord that is pale in color and consists mostly of nerve fibers that have myelin sheath around. Grey Matter gets identified as the major component of the human brain that has several nucleon bodies, neuropil, and other parts that help in working on body parts.
    • Gray matter has a pinkish-grey color and contains cell bodies such as axons, dendrites, and other fluids whereas White matter has the main constituent of axons and keeps all the gray matter parts together.
    • Gray matter makes up for around 40% of the total brain whereas the percentage of white matter is more, around 60%.
    • Grey color of the matter is because of axons that give it a distinctive color whereas the white color of matter becomes visible because of the myelin sheath.
    • All the processing and connections between data and the body parts take place within the gray matter whereas the white matter helps in the transmission of this information from the brain to other regions of the body at fast rates.
    • Axons are the main constituents that keep the white and gray matter connected with each other under all conditions.

    Video Explanation