Your brain is the most powerful organ, but it only weighs about 3 pounds. Its fabric is like dense jelly.
The brain has three main parts:
- The cerebrum – the hemispheres – fills most of the skull. Associated with it are memory, problem-solving, thinking, and feelings. It also regulates movement.
- Cerebellum – The cerebellum is in the occipital part of the head under the cerebrum. It regulates coordination and balance.
- The brain stem is located below the hemispheres and in front of the cerebellum. It connects the brain to the spine and regulates automatic functions such as breathing, digestion, heart rate, and blood pressure.
The brain is a complex organ that is part of the Central Nervous System (CNS). It is located in the anterior and upper part of the cranial cavity and is also present in all vertebrae. In the skull, the brain floats in a clear fluid called cerebrospinal fluid, which gives it physical protection and immunity.
Is the brain a muscle? We often hear that in order not to atrophy, the brain, like muscles, must exercise. Regardless, it is important to remember that it is not a muscle. This organ is not made up of myocytes, but millions of neurons connected to each other by axons and dendrites. Individually and collectively, they regulate the functions of our brain and body. Breathing, eating, sleeping, the ability to reason, fall in love, and argue- all of this is controlled by the brain.
Why do you need a brain? Brain functions
As the main organ of the central nervous system, it controls and regulates most of the functions of the human body. From vital functions such as breathing or heart rate, sleep, hunger, and thirst to higher functions: reasoning, memory, attention (Corbetta and Schulman, 2002), control of emotions, and behavior.
The brain regulates all the actions we perform in sleep and reality: when we breathe or swallow, look, listen, touch or taste something, read or write, sing or dance, think in silence or speak, love or hate, walk or run, we plan or act spontaneously, imagine or create, etc. Let’s make a list of the main functions of the brain:
Control of vital functions: control of body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, sleep, nutrition…
- Reception, processing, integration, and interpretation of all information received from the senses, e.g., sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell.
- Control of movements and postures of the body: walking, running, speaking, standing still.
- Responsible for our emotions and behavior.
- Allows us to think, reason, feel, be.
- Controls higher cognitive functions: memory, learning, perception, executive functions…
People should know that from the brain, and only from the brain, our joys, pleasures, laughter, and jokes arise, just like our sorrows, pain, sorrow, and tears. Thanks to the brain, we gain wisdom and knowledge, sight and hearing, we can distinguish ugly from beautiful, bad from good, tasty from insipid. Because of the brain, we go crazy and delirious; we are overcome by fear and horror. We have to endure all this when the brain is unhealthy.
Hippocrates guessed that the human brain is one of the most complex, mysterious, and at the same time perfect creations of nature. At one time, Hippocrates and his contemporaries could not even imagine how far we would advance in the study of this organ. Thanks to technological advances in neuroimaging, medicine, biology, psychology, and neuroscience in general, we have been able to unravel the most crucial mysteries of its anatomy and functions. However, there are still many secrets and questions that have not yet been answered.
Departments of the brain
All vertebrates have a brain, which consists of the following sections:
- Large or terminal brain, consisting of cortical and subcortical structures. Cortical structures or cerebral cortex are divided into several lobes: frontal (A), parietal (B), cingulate (C), occipital (D), temporal and insular (the last two are hidden in the figure). In addition, these lobes are divided in half into two hemispheres, right and left. Subcortical structures include structures located under the cerebral cortex, such as the corpus callosum, which unites both hemispheres, the thalamus, basal ganglia, amygdala, hippocampus, and mastoid bodies. The brain is responsible for integrating all the information from the senses and organizing the response to it. Controls emotions, motor, and all higher cognitive functions: reasoning, emotional expression.
- Cerebellum: This is the second-largest region of the brain. It is mainly responsible for controlling movement and posture of the body, but also for several cognitive functions.
- The hypothalamus and pituitary gland are responsible for visceral functions such as regulating body temperature and basic behavior- nutrition, sexual desire, pleasure-seeking, aggression, etc.
- Pineal Gland: Responsible (among other visceral functions) for releasing the hormone melatonin and regulating sleep/wake cycles along with the optic chiasm.
- Brain stem: consists of the spinal cord, medulla oblongata, pons varoli, and midbrain. The brain stem controls automatic functions such as blood pressure or heart rate, limbic responses, and visceral functions such as digestion or urination.
Characteristics of the human brain
How much does the human brain weigh? How big is it? How many neurons are there in the brain?
- The human cerebral cortex is one of the most complex and developed. It is not only larger than that of animals, but it also forms a complex structure, forming grooves and convolutions, giving it a characteristic wrinkled appearance.
- The human brain weighs about 1.4-1.5 kg, and its volume reaches 1130 and 1260 cubic centimeters in women and men, respectively.
- The brain (and spinal cord) is covered with membranes called meninges, which protect the brain from being hit in the skull.
- For better protection, the brain floats in the cerebrospinal fluid.
- The brain is believed to be made up of over 100 million brain cells, mainly glial cells and neurons.
How does the brain work?
The brain works by transmitting information between neurons (and other receptor or effector cells) through electrochemical impulses. This transfer of information occurs during a synapse. During synapse, neurons and cells are in contact with each other through chemical discharges and electrical impulses, exchanging neurotransmitters that activate or inhibit the actions of another cell. Axon terminals are presynaptic elements of neural communication through which a neuron makes connections with dendrites, soma, and even other axons.
The transfer of information between neurons takes milliseconds. Hundreds of connections simultaneously occur and in a coordinated manner, which allows us to adequately perceive information, understand it, and respond to the world around us.
How to improve your brain function?
As it turns out, the brain does increase from regular stress on the body.
In particular, synapses, the places of contact of neurons, increase in size. There are more cells in the brain, and new connections are created between them.
A healthy heart provides the brain with plenty of oxygen and glucose and flushes out toxins.
And if you’re lucky enough to be outdoors, there’s also a portion of our much-needed vitamin D.
- Recharge your brain with the right food
The brain takes up about 20% of all sugar and energy consumed by the body and is highly dependent on blood glucose levels.
When sugar gets out of control, the brain protests – and you feel it.
When we eat delicious food, dopamine is released into the pleasure center in the brain. That’s why we like delicious food.
However, positive emotions are needed not only for the brain but also for the stomach.
- Give your brain a break
Moderate stress is essential – it helps us mobilize in times of danger. Stress triggers the release of the hormone cortisol, injected into the bloodstream in short bursts to help us focus.
However, prolonged anxiety and high levels of stress are toxic to the brain.
Now you know everything about the human brain and what neurological disorders exist, thanks to our article.