In human anatomy, the neurocranium, also known as the braincase, brainpan, or brain-pan is the upper and back part of the skull, which forms a protective case around the brain. In the human skull, the neurocranium includes the calvaria or skullcap. The remainder of the skull is the facial skeleton.
The ossicles (three on each side) are usually not included as bones of the neurocranium. There may variably also be extra sutural bones present.
Below the neurocranium is a complex of openings (foramina) and bones, including the foramen magnum which houses the neural spine. The auditory bullae, located in the same region, aid in hearing.
The neurocranium arises from paraxial mesoderm. There is also some contribution of ectomesenchyme. In Chondrichthyes and other cartilaginous vertebrates this portion of the cranium does not ossify; it is not replaced via endochondral ossification.
Evolutionarily, the human neurocranium has expanded from comprising the back part of the mammalian skull to being also the upper part: during the evolutionary expansion of the brain, the neurocranium has overgrown the splanchnocranium. The upper-frontmost part of the cranium also houses the evolutionarily newest part of the mammal brain, the frontal lobes.