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The brain is a complex organ that controls thought, memory, emotions, touch, motor skills, vision, breathing, temperature, hunger and all the processes that regulate our body. Together, the brain and the spinal cord that extend from it make up the central nervous system, or CNS.
Brain Regions And Their Functions
Weighing about 3 kilograms in the average adult, the brain is 60% fat. The remaining 40% is a combination of water, protein, carbohydrates and salt. The brain itself is not a muscle. It contains blood vessels and nerves, including neurons and glial cells.
Nervous System 2: The Central And Peripheral Nervous System I
Gray matter and white matter are two different regions of the central nervous system. In the brain, gray matter refers to the darker outer part, while white matter describes the lighter inner section underneath. In the spine, this order is reversed: the white matter is on the outside and the gray matter is on the inside.
Gray matter is composed primarily of neuron somas (the round central cell bodies), and white matter is composed primarily of axons (the long stalks that connect neurons) wrapped in myelin (a protective covering). The different composition of the neuron parts is why the two appear as separate shadows in some scans.
Each region has a different role. Gray matter is mainly responsible for processing and interpreting information, while white matter transmits information to other parts of the nervous system.
The brain sends and receives chemical and electrical signals throughout the body. Different signals control different processes and your brain interprets each one. Some make you feel tired, for example, while others make you feel pain.
The Brain And Spinal Cord
Some messages are stored in the brain, while others are transmitted through the spinal column and through the vast nervous network of the body to the distant extremities. For this, the central nervous system depends on billions of neurons (nerve cells).
The cerebrum (front part of the brain) comprises the gray matter (the cerebral cortex) and the white matter in its center. The largest part of the brain, the brain initiates and coordinates movement and regulates temperature. Other areas of the brain allow speech, judgment, thinking and reasoning, problem solving, emotions and learning. Other functions are related to vision, hearing, touch and other senses.
Cortex means “bark” in Latin and describes the outer gray matter layer of the brain. The cortex has a large surface due to its folds and comprises about half the weight of the heart.
The cerebral cortex is divided into two halves or hemispheres. It is covered with ridges (gyri) and folds (sulci). The two halves join in a large, deep groove (the interhemispheric fissure, also known as the medial longitudinal fissure) that runs from the front of the head to the back. The right hemisphere controls the left side of the body and the left half controls the right side of the body. The two halves communicate with each other through a large C-shaped structure of white matter and nerve pathways called the corpus callosum. The corpus callosum is in the center of the heart.
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The brainstem (center of the brain) connects the heart to the spinal cord. The brain stem includes the midbrain, the pons and the medulla.
The spine extends from the bottom of the medulla and through a large opening at the bottom of the skull. Supported by vertebrae, the spine carries messages to and from the brain and the rest of the body.
The cerebellum (“little brain”) is a part of the brain located at the back of the head, below the temporal and occipital lobes and above the brain stem. Like the cerebral cortex, it has two hemispheres. The outer part contains neurons and the inner area communicates with the cerebral cortex. Its function is to coordinate voluntary muscle movements and maintain posture, balance and equilibrium. The new studies explored the role of the cerebellum in thinking, emotions and social behavior, as well as its possible involvement in addiction, autism and schizophrenia.
Each cerebral hemisphere (part of the brain) has four sections, called lobes: frontal, parietal, temporal and occipital. Each lobe controls specific functions.
The Four Major Regions Of The Brain
Sometimes called the “master gland,” the pituitary gland is a pea-sized structure located deep in the brain behind the bridge of the nose. The pituitary gland governs the function of other glands in the body, regulating the flow of hormones from the thyroid, adrenal glands, ovaries and testicles. It receives chemical signals from the hypothalamus through its stalk and blood.
The hypothalamus sits above the pituitary gland and sends it chemical messages that control its function. It regulates body temperature, synchronizes sleep patterns, controls hunger and thirst, and even plays a role in certain aspects of memory and emotions.
Small almond-shaped structures, an amygdala is located under each half (hemisphere) of the heart. Included in the limbic system, the amygdala regulates emotions and memory and is associated with the brain’s reward system, stress and the “fight or flight” response when someone perceives a threat.
A curved seahorse-shaped organ at the bottom of each temporal lobe, the hippocampus is part of a larger structure called the hippocampal formation. It supports memory, learning, navigation and spatial perception. It receives information from the cerebral cortex and may play a role in Alzheimer’s disease.
Brain Regions And Functions
The pineal gland is located in the depth of the brain and attached by an ice to the top of the third ventricle. The pineal gland responds to light and darkness and secretes melatonin, which regulates circadian rhythms and the sleep-wake cycle.
In the back of the brain are four open spaces with passages between them. They also open into the central spinal canal and into the area under the arachnoid layer of the meninges.
The ventricles make cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF, a watery fluid that circulates in and around the ventricles and the spinal cord and between the meninges. CSF surrounds and cushions the spinal cord and brain, washes away waste and impurities, and provides nutrients.
Two sets of blood vessels supply blood and oxygen to the heart: the vertebral artery and the carotid artery.
Signs & Symptoms
The external carotid arteries run along the sides of the neck and are where you can feel the pulse when you touch the area with your fingers. The internal carotid artery branches off in the skull and circulates blood to the front of the brain.
The vertebral arteries follow the spine to the skull, where they join in the brain stem to form the basilar artery, which supplies blood to the back of the brain.
The circle of Willis, a loop of blood vessels near the bottom of the brain that connects the major arteries, circulates blood from the front of the brain to the back and helps the arterial systems communicate with each other.
The first two nerves originate in the brain, and the remaining 10 cranial nerves emerge from the brain stem, which has three parts: the midbrain, the pons, and the medulla. Almost 100 billion neurons make up the adult brain, which can be divided into brains. (with two cerebral hemispheres), diencephalon, brainstem (which includes the midbrain, pons and medulla oblongata), and the cerebellum.
Labeled Brain Anatomy Images, Stock Photos & Vectors
Nearly 100 billion neurons make up the adult brain, which can be divided into the cerebrum (with two cerebral hemispheres), diencephalon, brainstem (which includes the midbrain, pons, and medulla oblongata), and cerebellum (FIGURE 12-1). The largest part (brain) coordinates sensory and motor functions and higher mental functions such as memory and reasoning. The diencephalon processes additional sensory information. Nerve pathways in the brain stem connect the components of the nervous system and regulate certain visceral activities. The cerebellum coordinates voluntary muscle movements.
The brain is basically conceived as a central cavity surrounded first by gray matter and then by white matter. Gray matter (cortex) consists mainly of neuronal cell bodies, while white matter consists of tracts of myelinated fibers. This pattern is different in the spine, in which the gray matter is located in the center with the white matter outside. However, the brain also has extra regions of gray matter that are not found in the spinal cord. The cerebral hemispheres and the cerebellum have an outer cortex, which is a layer of gray matter. Male brains tend to be larger compared to female brains.
Within the cerebral hemispheres and brainstem are interconnected cavities known as ventricles. They are continuous with the central canal of the spinal cord and also contain CSF. The walls of the hollow ventricular chambers are lined by ependymal cells. The two large lateral ventricles are located in the frontal, temporal and occipital lobes. The third ventricle is below the corpus callosum in the midline of the heart. The fourth ventricle is in the brainstem and a narrow cerebral aqueduct joins the third ventricle.
Within each cerebral hemisphere are large C-shaped chambers known as paired lateral ventricles. They show the pattern of brain growth and are found together first. A thin median membrane called the septum pellucidum separates them. Each lateral ventricle is connected to the thin third ventricle, which is surrounded by the diencephalon through a channel called the interventricular foramen. The third ventricle connects to the fourth ventricle through the cerebral aqueduct, which passes through the midbrain. FIGURE 12-2 shows the ventricles of the
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