Humans have been trying to study the brain since a long time now, and yet we have covered only a tiny part of the field of neuroscience: so tiny that the amount we have studied could be compared to a needle, and the remaining amount is the sea! And the very fact that humans can even come up with comparisons like this, is thanks to the brain. Thinking and feeling, asking questions and giving answers, walking, talking, every minute action such as the rise of a hand or even a finger, all voluntary and involuntary actions: we can do everything because of the brain.
Since the brain must perform such important tasks, its functioning is of course, quite complex. It involves both the central as well as the peripheral nervous system. The brain sends messages to all the muscles, and this communication is facilitated by cranial and spinal nerves.
Different regions of the brain have different functions. The three major parts are forebrain, midbrain, and hindbrain.
This part of the brain is responsible for the thinking capability of humans. This region is what puts humans at the highest level in the animal chain, as the other two parts i.e. midbrain and hindbrain are similar in humans and other animals. It comprises of the limbic system (which includes the amygdala and hippocampus), and the cerebral cortex.
- The amygdala is responsible for the EQ (Emotional Quotient) of humans. It makes humans aware of their emotions and also responds to emotions appropriately. Besides this, the amygdala helps us to distinguish between two things.
- The hippocampus deals with memories, and if this part is damaged then the person will not be able to store new information.
- The thalamus is what makes us realize that we are asleep or awake. It also redistributes different kinds of incoming information to different parts of the forebrain.
- The hypothalamus is associated with activities that regulate activities such as eating and drinking. For instance, we know that we had a full meal because of the hypothalamus.
- The cerebral cortex is the largest part of the brain. It is divided into two further parts, i.e. the left hemisphere and the right hemisphere. The right hemisphere is responsible for non-verbal activities such as recognizing spaces and people by looking at them, etc. whereas the left hemisphere is responsible for verbal activities such as speaking.
This is the lowest part of the brain and comprises the medulla, cerebellum, and the pons.
- The medulla connects the spinal cord and the skull and hence makes us maintain our posture and control our reflexes. It also controls involuntary actions such as regulating blood pressure, salivation, etc.
- The cerebellum controls our voluntary body movements such as riding a bicycle, walking in a straight line, etc.
- The pons controls the intensity and frequency of breathing mechanism
and our sleep cycles. It acts as a bridge with the midbrain.
This region connects the forebrain to the hindbrain. It is associated with vision, motor control, hearing, alertness, temperature regulation, etc.
Since the brain has so many important functions, it is essential to protect this important organ. This is what the skull does. It provides a bony structure that protects the brain. A fluid-filled balloon inside the skull is where the brain actually rests. This provides further shock absorption.
To know more about the working of the central nervous system and the human brain, visit Byju’s.