About Our Brain
The brain, the spinal cord and the peripheral nervous system comprises the central nervous system. The central nervous system controls virtually every part of our body. Sensory nerves are the information gatherers. They send information to the spinal cord and then on to the brain. The brain, in turn, conducts a speedy analysis and a quick response to the stimuli it has received. The instructions from the brain are delivered by motor neurons to the rest of our body. The nerve bundles inside our spinal cord speed the messages to and from the brain continuously. We could not breathe, speak, hear, see, or move without this complex system.
The brain has three main parts:
- The fore brain – the cerebrum, thalamus, and hypothalamus
- The mid brain – the tectum and tegmentum
- The hind brain – cerebellum, pons and medulla
The mid brain (tectum and tegmentum) and the pons and medulla together are referred to as the brain stem.
The Cerebrum, also known as the cortex is the largest part of our brain. It is where our brain performs functions such as thought and action. The Cerebrum has four sections called lobes:
- The frontal lobe – controls parts of speech, movement, reasoning, planning, emotions, and problem solving.
- The parietal lobe – controls perception of stimuli, recognition, movement, and orientation.
- The occipital lobe – controls visual processing, etc.
- The temporal lobe – controls how our body perceives and recognizes auditory stimuli, memory, and speech.
The cerebrum is comprised of the right and the left hemispheres. The right hemisphere is normally connected to creativity, and the left hemisphere is connected to logic thought. From hence came the saying that you are either right or left brained. These two hemispheres are connected by a bundle of axons called the corpus callosum. The gray matter on the surface of the cerebrum is made up of nerve cells. Underneath the gray matter there are white nerve fibers that carry signals from the nerves to the other parts of our body.
The neocortex is a six layered structure that makes up most of the cerebrum. It is found in more fully evolved mammals such as humans, primates, dolphins, etc.)
The Cerebellum also has two hemispheres. It is sometimes called the “little brain”. It regulates coordination of movement, posture, and balance.
The Limbic System is found inside the cerebrum. It is often called the “emotional brain”. It is comprised of four parts.
- Thalamus – Sensory and motor functions.
- Hypothalamus – Controls the pituitary, emotion, thirst, hunger, circadian rhythms, and the autonomic nervous system.
- Amygdala – Memory, emotion, and fear. It is large and located just under the surface of the front, medial temporal lobe.
- Hippocampus – Learning, memory and recollection, and remembering spatial relationships.
The Brain Stem is found underneath the limbic system. It controls breathing, heartbeat, and blood pressure.
The brain stem has three parts:
- Midbrain – Eye movement, body movement, and motor function.
- Pons – Motor control and sensory analysis. ie: the information from the ear enters the pons.
- Medulla Oblongata – Vital body functions, such as breathing and heart rate.
I hope that this explains a little about how the brain works. We will be exploring other aspects of how our brain works, what happens as our brain ages, and what we can do to keep our brains young, in future articles.
Please keep checking back. There is lots more to come.
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