Neck Anatomy and Physiology

Human Neck

The Neck is an extremely complicated place in the body. It not only supports the brain in its quest against gravity, but supplies the passageways from the brain to the entirety of the body. This is the mast of your vessel, the top of the spine. This makes the neck a sort of nervous mecca for the entire body, it is the portal of the entire human body into the organs, through the mouth and also allows for breathing (very important).

The muscular systems of the neck are extremely complex, as they tend to be smaller and refined for smaller muscle movement. There is also a tremendous amount of organic tissue in the neck that is intrinsic to the function of the nervous system. Humans have adapted to being both prey and predator, so the neck serves as an excellent tool for adjusting what is available to the eyes. It allows for great flexibility for human to perceive our environment. Not to mention that it holds our extremely heavy, ten pound head.

Lets look at some of the anatomical structures of the upper spine:


Major Neck Muscles

  • Levator Scalpulae – connects the top/back of the shoulderblade to the skull
  • Sternocleidomastoid – primary superficial muscles, connects the top of the sternum to the mastoid process of the temporal skull (side of skull)
  • Scalene muscles – connects C2-C7 to the upper and second ribs lateral to the spine.
  • Digastric muscles – connects throat to chin


Major Functional Structures in the neck:

  • Thyroid – regulates heart rate, major endocrine gland controlled by Thyroid Stimulating Hormone produce by the pituitary gland
  • Esophagus – muscular food tube leading to stomach
  • Trachea – breathing tube
  • Cerebral Spine
  • Portions of the brain stem

Depictions of the Human Neck


Here are some views of the neuronal structures:

Lateral View:


Anterior View:


Posterior View:


I thought these might be useful for reference. I have linked the pictures to the website that I got them from.