The Human Brain
The Human Brain regulates and monitors a vast array of physical and physiological reactions in the human body. Although each individual's personality is unique, the mechanisms of the human brain are the same for everyone. The various parts of the brain continuously receive sensory information, which is then analyzed and responded to through the subsequent control of numerous bodily functions.
How the Brain Works
The human brain is divided into four separate sections that work together as a whole with the assistance of the spinal cord to control automatic operation, conscious communication with other areas of the body and to ensure the body's vital organs function properly. To understand how the brain works, it is important to become familiar with the four primary sections that make up the human brain in its entirety. These are the brain stem, diencephalon, cerebellum and cerebrum.
The human brain stem is responsible for a significant number of vital bodily functions. It governs certain reflexes, blood pressure, respiration, and the release of hormones—adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol—which takes place in the body during fight or flight response, i.e., the body's physiological reaction to extreme anxiety or fear.
The cerebrum is the largest section of the human brain and is responsible for an individual's speech, memory, emotional response and senses. It is divided into four distinct sections referred to as lobes. These are the occipital, parietal, temporal and frontal lobes. Each set is responsible for a different function:
The two frontal lobes make up the largest section of the cerebrum and are associated with an individual's personality and ability to reason. In addition, the frontal lobes control executive functions such as thought patterns, planning, problem solving and control of one's emotions.
The smallest set of lobes in the cerebrum, the occipital lobes are found in the rearmost portion of the brain. The occipital lobes are the part of the cerebrum that contains the visual cortex and controls an individual's sight and reaction to light.
The parietal lobes are located behind the frontal lobes and above the occipital lobes. The parietal lobes process information from various areas of the human body, specifically determining navigation and one's sense of space. They are also responsible for an individual's depth perception and ability to sense the position of his or her body, regardless of whether the person's eyes are opened or closed.
The temporal lobes are located just above the occipital lobes and behind the frontal lobes. They play a vital role in the organization of thoughts and speech patterns, auditory perception, sensory input, memory formation, and the mastery of speech and language. The parietal lobes and the temporal lobes are approximately the same size.
The Cerebellum is located behind and below the cerebrum, and is permanently affixed to the brain stem. Its chief responsibilities include coordination, motor function, and the body's ability to interpret the stimulus sent to the brain by the various sensory organs such as the ears, nose and eyes.
The diencephalon is located just above the brain stem inside the cerebrum. It has a vast array of functions, including the regulation of sleep patterns and appetite, and various sensory functions. The diencephalon is also divided into several sections, such as the epithalamus, thalamus and hypothalamus, which play a role in metabolism and thyroid function.
The Protective Layers of the Brain
The human brain has several layers of defense to protect it from damage or harm. The most obvious of these are the bones of the skull, sometimes called the cranium. Underneath the cranium is a serious of strong and durable membranes call the meninges, which cover both the spinal cord and brain. The meninges contain a thick fluid, which also serves to cushion the brain and spinal cord.
However, despite its natural protective layers, the human brain can become diseased, injured or malfunction in a variety of ways. Such conditions can include the rupturing of a blood vessel, the presence of a malignancy, and skull fractures or other injuries.
It is clear that all parts of the human brain must work together to create the seamless mental function experienced by most individuals on a daily basis. However, as there are certain conditions and illnesses that can negatively affect brain function, it is important to speak to a physician if troubling symptoms are present.