about the brain
Figuring out how the brain works can be mind-boggling. This master organ, weighing in at approximately 3 pounds, controls all of the systems of the body giving us the ability to breathe, move, feel emotion, store memories, communicate and have a personality. The brain accomplishes all of this through a network of billions of nerve cells called neurons. Neurons transmit and receive electrochemical signals through nerve fiber extensions known as axons and dendrites. The axons send messages and the dendrites receive messages from other neurons through the point of contact between neurons called synapses.
The largest area of the brain, known as the cerebrum, is made up of two hemispheres, the right and the left. Both hemispheres have four lobes: the frontal lobe, parietal lobe, temporal lobe and occipital lobe.
- The frontal lobe, located behind the forehead, is our emotional control center and home to our personality. It is involved with functions such as problem solving, memory, language and movement. It is also the center of judgment, impulse control and social behavior. So if you gave into the unfortunate urge to show your new dance moves to everyone walking down the street, you can blame your frontal lobe.
- The parietal lobe, located in the upper, back portion of the brain, receives sensory information from the entire body. It allows us to feel touch and pain. The parietal lobe also helps to guide our body as it moves through the space around it. An area of this lobe is also responsible for some aspects of language.
- The temporal lobe is located behind and under the frontal lobe and beneath the parietal lobe. Its main functions are the processing of auditory information and the formation of long-term memory.
- The occipital lobe is responsible for processing visual information. Without it, the visual stimulus that we receive through our eyes would just be a barrage of unintelligible signals.
The second largest portion of the brain is the cerebellum which is located beneath the back of the cerebrum. It is the brain’s coordination center and controls voluntary muscle movement and balance.
Last, but certainly not least, the brain stem connects the brain to the spinal cord and we like to refer to it as “the regulator”. It regulates cardiac and respiratory function, as well as the central nervous system. And without it we would have no means of maintaining consciousness or sleep cycles.