External capsule

The external capsule is a series of white matter tracts in the brain situated between the putamen and claustrum. It is composed of claustrocortical fibres dorsally and the combined mass of the uncinate fasciculus and inferior frontal occipital fasciculus ventrally. 


The putamen separates the external capsule from the internal capsule medially and the claustrum separates it from the extreme capsule laterally. Ventrally, the claustrum is deficient, and thus the boundary between the extreme capsule and external capsule is poorly defined.


Claustrocortical fibres

The claustrocortical fibres of the dorsal extreme capsule appear to emanate radially from the periphery of the dorsal claustrum. These fibres pass through the corona radiata to reach to the frontal lobe and parietal lobe (including the supplementary motor area).

On their way through the corona radiata, they run laterally to the dorsal part of the frontal horn, body and the ventral atrium of the lateral ventricle. It should be noted that the claustrocortical fibres are bi-directional, that is, it is comprised of fibres both emanating and converging on the claustrum.

Inferior frontal occipital fasciculus and uncinate fasciculus

The inferior frontal occipital fasciculus and uncinate fasciculus together form the ventral external capsule. They pass through the temporal stem to the frontal lobe from the temporal lobe.

The uncinate fasciculus lies just posterior to the limen (insulae) in a hook-like shape (hence "uncinate") and connects the temporopolar area to the orbital frontal lobe. It is sometimes characterised as having two parts, a dorsolateral and a ventromedial parts, the latter also connecting to the septal area. On its way to the limen it envelopes the inferior and anterior aspect of the nucleus accumbens

The inferior frontal occipital fasciculus lies dorsal to the uncinate fasciculus and is a long association fibre tract, coursing from the ventral parts of the middle and inferior frontal gyri, through the limen and under the superior and middle temporal gyri to reach the middle and inferior occipital gyri. In the temporal lobe, it runs superior to the inferior longitudinal fasciculus.

Anatomy: Brain
Share article

Article information

rID: 5826
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Cases and figures

  • Drag
    Basal ganglia location
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Drag
    Coronal brain through 3rd ventricle
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.

    Alert accept

    Error Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

    Alert accept Thank you for updating your details.