The human brain is the epicenter of the central nervous system, which controls the body’s most vital tasks. Everything from movement of limbs and facial features to regulating bodily functions like breathing is sent as a message from some part of the brain.
Comprised of billions of nerve cells that communicate with the body through the spinal cord, the brain is a complicated organ separated into several sections and subsections. Below is a breakdown of the parts of the brain, and how they contribute to the body’s functions and abilities.
Also called the cortex, the cerebrum makes up the largest part of the brain. It is associated with higher functions, such as cognitive thoughts and actions. There are four sections of the cerebrum (called lobes), each of which contributes to the body differently. The four lobes and their functions are as follows:
- Frontal Lobe
This section controls attributes, such as reasoning, planning, parts of speech, general movement, emotions, problem-solving, smell and personality.
- Parietal Lobe
Located behind the frontal lobe, this section is responsible for many aspects of comprehension. They include visual functions, language, reading, orientation and general perception of stimuli.
- Occipital Lobe
Located in the back of the cerebrum, this lobe is the primary control of visual processing. Things such as color, shapes and angles are all deciphered by the occipital lobe.
- Temporal Lobe
The temporal lobe processes auditory stimuli. It is also responsible for memory and assists with speech.
The cerebellum (also called the little brain) resembles a smaller version of the cortex, because of its densely wrinkled appearance and its halved parts. It is responsible for several physical tasks, like movement, balance, posture and coordination. Although smaller in size, the cerebellum contains more neurons than the entire brain. It is critical for accomplishing day-to-day tasks as simple as walking or sitting down.
The Limbic System
Called the “emotional brain,” the limbic system is comprised of four glands which are found inside the cerebrum. The glands help to express emotions and regulate hormonal responses. They are:
Responsible for recognition of emotions, memories and fear, the amygdala is located in the telencephalon (the most highly-developed section of the cerebrum). It is comprised of two almond-sized pieces of grey matter inside the temporal lobe.
The hippocampus aids in building memories and cognitive learning. It is where short-term memories are converted into permanent ones. The centrally-located gland is also what allows humans to have spatial awareness.
The hypothalamus gland is associated with circadian rhythm (sleep cycles), hunger and some emotional responses. It is also responsible for regulating the pituitary gland and its release of hormones.
A vital piece of gray matter that lives deep within the frontal lobe, the thalamus is responsible for major nervous and sensory functions. With the exception of taste and smell, all senses pass through the thalamus to be categorized into what becomes touch, sight and hearing.
The Brain Stem
The brain stem is regarded by many as the most important part of the entire brain and nervous system. It is connected to the spine and carries out the task of sending messages to all parts of the body. Every physical movement in the body is carried out in some capacity from the brain stem. Even basic functions such as heartbeat and breathing come initially from the brain stem.
Along with its importance, the brain stem is also regarded as being one of the simplest parts of the brain system. This is because most creatures on the evolutionary scale have some type of brain development that resembles a stem.
There are three parts of the brain stem: the midbrain, the pons and the medulla. Below is an explanation of what each part does in relation to the brain system:
The midbrain is the first section of the brain stem. It is divided into two parts: the tegmentum and the tectum. It controls functions, such as basic movements, vision, hearing and eye movement. The midbrain is considered an integral part of the brain that relays messages and contributes to voluntary motor function.
Any information coming to the brain from the ears passes through the pons first. It is responsible for sensory analysis. Because it is connected to the cerebellum, the pons contributes to movement and posture.
Located at the very end of the brain stem, the medulla (also called the medulla oblongata) is responsible for controlling functions, such as heartbeat and breathing.
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For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, contact IGEA today.