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How does the brain work?

How does the brain work?

Although we rarely stop to think about the importance it has in the regulation of our daily activities. Anatomically the brain is the most voluminous part of the brain and it is divided by a central groove called the longitudinal fissure in the right and left hemispheres, at the same time joined by the corpus callosum.

The surface of each hemisphere has a set of folds that form a series of irregular depressions, are the grooves or fissures. The disposition that these furrows adopt is never the same among the brains of different people. They also adopt different provisions on both sides of the same brain.

Content

  • 1 The Brain, its parts and functions
  • 2 The brain and the hemispheres
  • 3 Functions of the brain lobes
  • 4 Limbic system, hippocampus, hypothalamus and cortex
  • 5 The brain and information processing

The Brain, its parts and functions

Each cerebral hemisphere is divided into four lobes: the frontal, the parietal, the temporal and the occipital. In general, the first four lobes are located under the bones that bear the same name. Thus, the frontal lobe rests in the depths of the frontal bone, the parietal lobe under the parietal bone, the temporal lobe under the temporal bone and the occipital lobe below the region corresponding to the occipital protuberance.

Brain contains billions of cells, of which about 100,000 million neurons and has almost 100 trillion serial and parallel interconnections that provide the physical basis that allows brain function. Thanks to the circuits formed by nerve cells or neurons, It is capable of processing sensory information from the outside world and the body itself.

The brain performs sensory functions, motor functions and less defined integration functions associated with various mental activities. Some processes that are controlled by the brain are memory, language, writing and emotional response.

The neuron

The functioning of the brain is based on the concept that the neuron is an independent anatomical and functional unit. The neuron is made up of a cell body from which numerous branches called dendrites are capable of receiving information from other nerve cells. It also has a main extension, the axon, which conducts information to the other neurons in the form of an electric current.

Neurons are not connected to each other by a continuous network formed by their extensions, but they do it by contacts separated by narrow spaces called synaptic spaces. The transmission of the signals through the synapses is carried out by means of chemical substances known as neurotransmitters, of which more than twenty different classes are known today.

The brain and the hemispheres

The brain He is in charge of the motor, sensitive and integration functions. The left cerebral hemisphere specializes in producing and understanding the sounds of language, the control of skillful movements and gestures with the right hand. Right hemisphere He specializes in the perception of sounds unrelated to language (music, crying ...), in tactile perception and in the spatial location of objects.

Functions of the brain lobes

Today it is known that In the occipital lobe, visual information is received and analyzed. In the temporal lobes certain visual and auditory sensations are governed. The voluntary movements of the muscles are governed by the neurons located in the most posterior part of the frontal lobes, in the so-called motor cortex.

The frontal lobes are also related to language, intelligence and personality, although specific functions in this area are unknown. The parietal lobes are associated with the senses of touch and balance. At the base of the brain the brainstem, which governs breathing, cough and heartbeat.

Behind the trunk is located the cerebellum, which coordinates body movement while maintaining posture and balance. The brain areas that govern functions such as memory, thinking, emotions, consciousness and personality, are much more difficult to locate.

Limbic system, hippocampus, hypothalamus and cortex

The memory is linked to limbic system, located in the center of the brain. With regard to emotions, it is known that the hippocampus controls thirst, hunger, aggression and emotions in general. It is postulated that the impulses from the frontal lobes are integrated into the limbic system, reaching the hypothalamus, structure that in turn regulates the functioning of the pituitary gland, producer of several hormones.

It is in the cortex where cognitive abilities are integrated where is our ability to be aware, to establish relationships and make complex reasoning. What we call gray matter is a small layer that covers the rest of the brain. But the human cerebral cortex has a characteristic that distinguishes it from all others: It has numerous folds. This greatly increases its surface. If we extended it, it would occupy the area equivalent to four pages. In comparison, that of a chimpanzee would only be one folio, that of the monkey would occupy as a postcard and that of the rat that of a postage stamp.

The brain and information processing

The processing of sensory information collected from the world around us and from our own body, motor and emotional responses, learning, awareness, imagination and memory are functions that are performed by circuits formed by interrelated neurons through the synaptic contacts It is for this reason that brain functioning resembles, in part, a computer. But the brain is much more complex than a computer, since it is endowed with properties that only its biological nature provides.

Visit here our Visual and interactive brain atlas

References

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