Cross-section of spinal cord with grey matter labelled.
Grey matter undergoes development and growth throughout childhood and adolescence. Recent studies using cross-sectional neuroimaging have shown that by around the age of 8 the volume of grey matter begins to decrease. However, the density of grey matter appears to increase as a child develops into early adulthood. Males tend to exhibit grey matter of increased volume but lower density than that of females.
Grey matter contains most of the brain's neuronal cell bodies. The grey matter includes regions of the brain involved in muscle control, and sensory perception such as seeing and hearing, memory, emotions, speech, decision making, and self-control.
The grey matter of the spinal cord can be divided into different layers, called Rexed laminae. These describe, in general, the purpose of the cells within the grey matter of the spinal cord at a particular location.
Rexed laminae groups the grey matter in the spinal cord according to its function.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (January 2017)
High alcohol consumption has been correlated with significant reductions in grey matter volume. Short-term cannabis use (30 days) is not correlated with changes in white or grey matter. However, several cross-sectional studies have shown that repeated long-term cannabis use is associated with smaller grey matter volumes in the hippocampus, amygdala, medial temporal cortex, and prefrontal cortex, with increased grey matter volume in the cerebellum. Long-term cannabis use also alters white matter integrity in an age-dependent manner, with heavy cannabis use during adolescence and early adulthood causing the greatest amount of damage.
Habitual playing of action video games has been reported to promote a reduction of grey matter in the hippocampus while 3D platformer games have been reported to increase grey matter in the hippocampus.
Women and men with equivalent IQ scores have differing proportions of grey to white matter in cortical brain regions associated with intelligence.
Pregnancy renders substantial changes in brain structure, primarily reductions in gray matter volume in regions subserving social cognition. The gray matter reductions endured for at least 2 years post-pregnancy.
In the current edition of the official Latin nomenclature, Terminologia Anatomica, substantia grisea is used for English grey matter. The adjective grisea for grey is however not attested in classical Latin. The adjective grisea is derived from the French word for grey, gris. Alternative designations like substantia cana and substantia cinerea are being used alternatively. The adjective cana, attested in classical Latin, can mean grey, or greyish white. The classical Latin cinerea means ash-coloured.
Human brain right dissected lateral view
Schematic representation of the chief ganglionic categories (I to V).
^Miller AK, Alston RL, Corsellis JA (1980). "Variation with age in the volumes of grey and white matter in the cerebral hemispheres of man: measurements with an image analyser". Neuropathology and Applied Neurobiology. 6 (2): 119-32. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2990.1980.tb00283.x. PMID7374914.
^Yang X, Tian F, Zhang H, Zeng J, Chen T, Wang S, Jia Z, Gong Q (July 2016). "Cortical and subcortical gray matter shrinkage in alcohol-use disorders: a voxel-based meta-analysis". Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. 66: 92-103. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2016.03.034. PMID27108216.
^Xiao P, Dai Z, Zhong J, Zhu Y, Shi H, Pan P (August 2015). "Regional gray matter deficits in alcohol dependence: A meta-analysis of voxel-based morphometry studies". Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 153: 22-8. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2015.05.030. PMID26072220.
^Lorenzetti V, Lubman DI, Whittle S, Solowij N, Yücel M (September 2010). "Structural MRI findings in long-term cannabis users: what do we know?". Substance Use & Misuse. 45 (11): 1787-808. doi:10.3109/10826084.2010.482443. PMID20590400.
^Yücel M, Solowij N, Respondek C, Whittle S, Fornito A, Pantelis C, Lubman DI (June 2008). "Regional brain abnormalities associated with long-term heavy cannabis use". Archives of General Psychiatry. 65 (6): 694-701. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.65.6.694. PMID18519827.