Do you know which body part is the most powerful and the most dangerous?
The Brain! It holds the capacity to create and turn imagination into reality. You cannot even wonder how it controls you. Are you the controller of your brain or does it control you? What do you think? Brain parts are classified according to their functions.
However, this is not our main concern in this discussion. We need to closely know the structure and characteristics of the brain, in order to discover its true potential.
What are brain parts?
All the mammals possess brain. But does every mammal exhibit same behavior? No, the responses are not synonymous. The way an elephant perceives a big bunch of bananas and the way a human perceives the same is very different! I may sound illogical, but let us have a brain-storming session!
A human has the ability to reason things. The self awareness capability, the ability to generate thoughts, the ability to combine ideas and feel a wide range of emotional changes, all these characteristics bring the human brain on a better position than that of animals.
Let me make it a little more interesting! Do you know that:
- A leech has 32 brains (to be more appropriate, 32 ganglia!).
- A giant squid makes use of its 15g brain to eat food.
- A fungus named Cordyceps infects the brain of the ant and controls its behavior.
- Nematode elegans has a tiny but powerful brain.
- Sea Squirts eat their own brain.
- The brain of dolphins is bigger than us!
Do you have the above mentioned characteristics? No! But still the human brain is the most spectacular! It is the most evolved and the most complex.
Thus, in order to learn about its capacities, we need to get thorough with the structure.
A brain is a single unit, but inside it is coordinative machinery, which employs many other parts. Let us learn more about them.
Human brain parts
The dominant division is into three parts. They are:
- Brain stem
These three contains the whole components assembled inside!
If you can see the outer coiled structure, let me tell you that this coiled and wrinkled layer is the Cortex, which is the term synonymously used for cerebrum. It is highly coiled and wrinkled in order to increase the surface area. What is the need of such a vast surface area? You must have heard that a brain has billions of “neurons”. These tiny units occupy the surface area. The more the surface area, the more number of neurons can be accommodated!
The human brain just looks like a walnut!
If you have a top view of the brain, you shall see a major suture or division line dividing the brain in two hemispheres, the left and the right hemisphere. Each hemisphere knows its functions and control well.
The cortex layer is made up of layers called meninges. These layers provide the framework to the cortex. Several neural cells and nerve fibres occupy the sub-level. They altogether form the cortex.
The second major part is the cerebellum region. This region lies below the cortex. In Latin, it means “little brain”. It is said that it has higher degree of coiling than the cerebrum. Motor control comes under the activity of the cerebellum. It does not initiate movement, but plays the eminent role in coordinating and managing the correct time of the motor movement. Accuracy and precision are the characteristic features!
Cerebellum has the appearance as if it has been attached separately to the brain, just like a shirt is tucked in trousers. It has a vast anatomy, and various subparts. We shall be discussing them later on.
The third major part is the Brain stem. Very well it could be interpreted that this brain stem has some resemblance to the botanical “stem”. It provides the base, the mechanical support. It connects to the spinal cord on one end.
The import and export of messages, that is, the signal is done through this medium only. Some basic but crucial tasks come under the supervision of the brain stem, such as, breathing, heart rate, swallowing, blood flow and the sleep.
It has three subparts!
- Medulla Oblongata
The midbrain works as a relay centre, sending signals back and forth. The Pons is a major structure, which supports the breathing process, monitors it and controls the volume of air breathed in and out. It also has a contribution in being responsible for sensory mechanisms such as hearing, taste and the balance. Medulla oblongata sounds like a botanical specimen, but it isn’t. It is actually an important part situated in the lower portion of the brain stem. It monitors the rate of heart and the pressure with which the blood flows. The reflex mechanism is generated by the Medulla oblongata only. Sneezing, coughing and many other such responses emerge from the commands given by this region only.
Other important parts of the brain and their functions
The brain not just comprises of the above mentioned three parts. There is a lot more held inside this wobbly ball!
The limbic system of the brain need not be forgotten. It is hidden inside the cerebrum! All the emotional traumas you go through and all the sentimental sessions you have- limbic system takes charge of everything! It consists of four different sections:
- Thalamus: it is a piece of grey matter, which is responsible for motor and sensory skills. The information is collected here and then further sent to the cortex with the help of neurons.
- Hypothalamus: when you feel hungry and thirsty, just wonder the hypothalamus is behind this response. It also controls one of the most important glands called “pituitary” gland, which is responsible for the production of hormones.
- Amygdala: it relates to the feeling of being afraid and frightened. Your memory is also controlled by this part.
- Hippocampus: the function of learning and making memories is characteristic of Hippocampus.
Parts of brain cerebrum
We have discussed about the parts and their functions, but the most important discussion is yet missing. The structural and functional unit of brain- the nerve cell! A neuron is the nerve cell, and is the basic building brick of the whole kingdom a brain owns.
Neurons are the component of brain. Do you think they are the same as the other body cells? No! They are the messengers working inside us. They communicate the information to and from the body cells. How do they communicate? They communicate in electrical forms, carrying out chemical reactions.
The neurons are further classified into three types:
- Sensory neurons: They take the sensory information from the body parts to the brain. They tell the brain how the body is sensing.
- Motor neurons: After the brain receives the signal from the body, it analyses the situation and sends a motor response through motor neurons to all the other body parts. This information is the command given by brain to respond to the sense accordingly. Keep in mind, the function of motor neuron is to carry the command from brain to the body parts.
- Inter-neurons: They communicate in between the neurons! After all, passing a piece of information is a tough task!
The structure of a neuron is very simple! It has three parts – the dendrite, cell body and the axon. There may be variations in size and shape of the neuron on the basis of different functions and tasks. But, the basic structure remains constant.
The dendrites are the receivers of the information, which is then passed on to the cell body and relayed to axon. The form of information is electrical signal. It passes from one neuron to another swiftly many a times. But, sometimes the transfer along the synaptic gap may call for the use of neurotransmitters.
What are neurotransmitters? They are the chemical messengers used to relay information across the synaptic gap.
Four major parts of brain
Generally you see the heading “four major parts of the brain”. These parts are not actual parts. They are regions of the cortex of the brain. Recall your journey to the Cerebrum region, where we discussed about it being the outermost component.
Let me be very specific here. There are 4 major regions of the cerebrum which are called “lobes”.
- Frontal lobe
- Parietal lobe
- Occipital lobe
- Temporal lobe
The frontal lobe is the front region of the cortex. You can say it holds the main headquarters of all the activities going on! The way you think is controlled in this region. The emotional system and the motor movement are also supervised by this lobe. Our personality traits are developed in this region only.
The main area of focus lies here. That is why it said that oiling and giving a gentle massage in this region of your head will strengthen your learning power and boost your memory.
The parietal lobe is the recognition master and is responsible for the calculative tasks.
The occipital lobe is responsible for visuals and functions related to it. The temporal lobe lies laterally, above the ears. The sound engineer of our body is this lobe only. It deals with the sounds, music and delivers the response accordingly. It is also a region which keeps the long term memory.
Each lobe has its own characteristic functions and no doubt, each of the lobes does its work efficiently.
Now you know how the smartness comes into you? Such a complex structure is mastering your actions. This is not the end of informative part. There is a lot more to explore and know about a human brain!
Refer to our other articles to stay informed!