White matter is one of the two components of the central nervous system and consists mostly of myelinated axons. White matter tissue of the freshly cut brain appears pinkish white to the naked eye because of myelin is composed largely of lipid and a few percent of capillaries. Its white color is due to its usual preservation in formaldehyde. A 20 year-old male has around 176,000 km of myelinated axons in his brain.
The other main component of the brain is grey matter (actually pinkish tan due to blood capillaries). A third colored component found in the brain that appears darker due to higher levels of melanin in dopaminergic neurons than its nearby areas is the substantia nigra.
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