Cerebral circulation


00:00 / 00:00



Cerebral circulation

Nervous system

Anatomy and physiology

Nervous system anatomy and physiology

Neuron action potential

Cerebral circulation

Blood brain barrier

Cerebrospinal fluid

Cranial nerves

Ascending and descending spinal tracts

Somatic nervous system

Motor cortex

Pyramidal and extrapyramidal tracts

Muscle spindles and golgi tendon organs

Spinal cord reflexes

Sensory receptor function

Somatosensory receptors

Somatosensory pathways

Autonomic nervous system

Sympathetic nervous system

Adrenergic receptors

Parasympathetic nervous system

Cholinergic receptors

Enteric nervous system


Body temperature regulation (thermoregulation)

Hunger and satiety



Basal ganglia

Basal ganglia: Direct and indirect pathway of movement

Higher order brain functions










Cerebral circulation


0 / 19 complete

High Yield Notes

5 pages


Cerebral circulation

of complete

External References

First Aid








Cerebral perfusion p. 517

Cerebral perfusion pressure (CPP) p. 518

External Links


Content Reviewers


Jerry Ferro

Victoria Cumberbatch

Elizabeth Nixon-Shapiro, MSMI, CMI

With cerebral circulation, cerebral stands for "brain," and circulation, refers to “blood flow.”

So, cerebral circulation is the movement of blood through the vessels that supply the brain and surrounding structures.

Our brain is responsible for complex functions such as thinking, feeling, memory, movement, vision, and speech.

Therefore, some of the devastating effects of oxygen deprivation to the brain include strokes, seizures, coma, and even death.

As a result, the brain requires a very efficient cerebral circulation to provide oxygen and nutrients, and remove carbon dioxide and wastes.

Now, like any other organ in the body, the blood supply to the brain, originates from the aorta.

Arising from the heart’s left ventricle, it goes on to form the aortic arch. Here, the brachiocephalic artery, originates first.

This branch gives off the right subclavian artery and the right common carotid artery.

Then a bit further along the aortic arch, the left common carotid artery arises, followed by the left subclavian artery.

The subclavian arteries give off right and left vertebral arteries, which ascend through the intervertebral feramina up to the brain.

Because the consequences of hypoxia to the brain are so devastating, the brain is safeguarded by having a dual circulation, an anterior circulation, originating from the carotids, and a posterior circulation, originating from the vertebral arteries.


The cerebral circulation is responsible for delivering oxygen and nutrients to the brain and removing carbon dioxide and other waste products. To ensure an uninterrupted blood supply to the brain, cerebral circulation consists of anterior and posterior parts. These two circulations, together, form a network of vessels known as the arterial circle of Willis. The anterior circulation consists of the internal carotid arteries and branches, which are the middle and anterior cerebral arteries. The anterior communicating artery connects the two anterior cerebral arteries.

The posterior circulation comes from the two vertebral arteries, which merge into the basilar artery and split into posterior cerebral arteries. Posterior cerebral arteries give off the left and right posterior communicating arteries, which then merge with the internal carotid arteries. Venous blood drains into the dural sinuses, which empty into the jugular veins and return to the heart through the superior vena cava.


Copyright © 2023 Elsevier, except certain content provided by third parties

Cookies are used by this site.

USMLE® is a joint program of the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) and the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME). COMLEX-USA® is a registered trademark of The National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners, Inc. NCLEX-RN® is a registered trademark of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc. Test names and other trademarks are the property of the respective trademark holders. None of the trademark holders are endorsed by nor affiliated with Osmosis or this website.