The anatomy of the brain
The anatomy of the brain
The brain can do many things at the same time, often without us even noticing. But how does it function? What does it look like inside the skull? The brain can be divided into three parts. We’ll look at them one at a time.
From this part, furthest down in the brain, signals are sent to the lungs to expand and contract. So, the signals make you breathe. This part also receives signals about the body’s temperature. If the temperature is too high, or too low, it needs to be corrected. If it’s too high, signals go to the body telling it to sweat.
The temperature then lowers. If the temperature is too low, signals go out which make the muscles contract and expand really quickly. You start to shiver. This is what happens when you are cold. And when you shiver, the body temperature goes up.
All these things, and many other vital functions, are controlled from here. This part of the brain is called the brain stem. Behind the brain stem is another part of the brain. This receives information about the body’s movement and position. If you’re about to fall over, this information comes here.
A signal goes to the muscles in the legs to tell them to take a step. You keep in balance, thanks to the signals transmitted by the brain. If you get an injury to this area, it becomes hard to keep your balance, and it can be difficult to walk. This area is called the cerebellum. The biggest part of the brain is the cerebrum.
The surface of the cerebrum is pleated. This is the cerebral cortex. Some of these pleats are clearly defined; they divide the cerebrum into areas called lobes. Inside each lobe there are areas which control different things in the body. In the frontal lobe is the area that controls the body movements you want to perform, such as catching a ball.
Those movements are voluntary movements. This is the area of movement. Another area in the frontal lobe is linked to thoughts, feelings, and intelligence. And memories are stored here. Behind the frontal lobe is the parietal lobe.
One area in the parietal lobe allows you to feel when something touches your skin. If a cat rubs against your leg, signals from the sensory nerves in your skin go to the parietal lobe. This is the area of sense. Here, in the temporal lobe, are the areas of hearing and smell. And here, in the occipital lobe, is the area that receives signals from your eyes - the area of vision.
If this area is injured, your vision can be affected, even though the eyes are working properly. The cerebrum is divided into two halves. Between them there is a channel that transmits information. That channel is called the corpus callosum. The two halves look the same but they have different tasks.
In the left hemisphere are the areas that make you able to talk and understand what others say: the language area. And the left hemisphere is also active when you are writing, reading, or counting. In the right hemisphere are areas that specialise in vision and hearing. And here, sounds can be interpreted as music. The right hemisphere makes you able to learn songs, and sing.
The left hemisphere controls the right side of the body. And the right half controls the left. This becomes apparent if a person’s brain gets damaged. Damage to the right hemisphere affects the left side of the body with, for example, paralysis in the left arm. Damage to the left hemisphere, affects the right side of the body.
So that’s what the brain looks like, and there is still much we don’t know about how it functions.