Parts of the Human Brain
The human brain is a vastly complex organ. Perhaps the most complex of all of the organs in the body of any species but particularly humans. The human brain controls what we think and feel. The human brain also controls our movements and actions. Without the human brain, other organs and systems in our body would not be able to function properly. Although the human brain is very complex, each part works seamlessly to handle its responsibilities. The different parts of the human brain contribute to the overall health and well-being of humans.
First you have the human brain as a whole, and spinal cord. These two elements make up what is called the central nervous system. The rest of the nerves found throughout the body make up the peripheral nervous system. In terms of what the human brain looks like, most people know it is composed of gray, wrinkled matter. The wrinkles are actually called the cortex. Within the cortex is where most of the neurons, or human brain cells, call home.
The cortex is comprised of additional parts; these are called the lobes and there are four main lobes:
- The frontal lobe, here is where you do your most complex thinking, reasoning, problem-solving, and planning.
- Temporal cortex, through this lobe you form memories and learn to process auditory sounds.
- Occipital cortex, as the name suggests, this lobe enables you to process everything you visualize and see.
- Parietal cortex, this lobe helps you integrate, file away, store, and make sense of all of the information that is besieging the human brain.
These are the major parts of the human brain, but the human brain can be broken down into dozens of other subcategories. There are even some parts of the human brain that scientists are still puzzled over; this demonstrates just how complex the human brain is. As time goes on, new studies are being conducted to learn more about the specific functions of each part of the human brain. Scientists and researchers have named and determined the corresponding function for each of the three sections of the human brain.
The hindbrain is considered to be the oldest part of the human brain. It is the part that has been with mankind for millions of years. It is also called the Reptilian Brain and needless to say, the name derives from how closely related in anatomy this part of the human brain resembles a reptile’s brain. Additionally, it commands our most basic human functions or what some may consider our primal instincts. These are things that do not necessarily have to be taught or learned, such as mating, dominance, and even survival. The hindbrain also controls other basic functions like respiration and the heartbeat. The hindbrain can further be divided into different parts:
This is often referred to as the “information superhighway” of the human body because of its function of carrying information to the human brain and then carrying the brain’s instructions back down.
This part of the hindbrain helps control the body’s autonomic or self-directing functions like digestion, heart rate, and respiration.
This part of the hindbrain sends sensory information back and forth to the human brain. It also plays a role in your level of consciousness or arousal as well as sleep.
The cerebellum deals chiefly with movement. This part is used a lot when a human is a toddler because it is involved in learning movement. Additionally, it coordinates posture and balance.
The Limbic System part of the human brain is the emotional epicenter of the human brain. It helps form memories and integrates emotion with memories so that individuals have a positive or negative reference to those memories. Here is where most of our unconscious value judgments are created. The Limbic System also plays a big role in how creative and spontaneous humans are or what we regard as agreeable or disagreeable. Within the Limbic System are:
Emotions are primarily produced here; namely fear. Researchers have found that the emotional responses (e.g. increased heartbeat, sweaty palms, freezing) to certain stimuli are triggered through the Amygdala. It also helps store memories that are emotionally charged.
This is where our memories are created, formed, and classified. This primary function of the hippocampus is to create memories and store them (long-term memory).
Here is where appetite, thirst, homeostasis, circadian rhythms, and other body urges are monitored and controlled. Linked to the pituitary gland it also plays a role in motor functions and some other autonomic functions.
This small organ is often referred to as the relay station of the human brain because most sensory signals have to go through the thalamus in order to get to the brain for processing.
This part of the human brain takes up about two-thirds of the human brain, so it is the largest part. The Neocortex or cortex is what gives us human qualities and differentiates us from other higher level animals whose neocortex resembles a human’s. Here is where humans are able to develop language, consciousness, imagination, and abstract thought.
The Neocortex can also be separated into additional parts of the human brain. There are two hemispheres that divide the Neocortex; the right and left. Interestingly enough, the left side of the Neocortex of the human brain controls the right side of the body and the right controls the left. If you have heard people describe themselves or others as a “Right Brain” or “Left Brain” this is the reason why. The right hemisphere facilitates mostly creativity, musicality, intuitive, and artistic. Conversely, the left hemisphere is more logical, it is more focused on rational, analysis, accuracy, and objectivity.
The Neocortex or cortex can be further separated into four more major parts, which were previously discussed: The Frontal Lobe, The Temporal Lobe, The Occipital Lobe, and the Parietal Lobe.