Brain Areas Within the Head (+what they do)

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Page last updated: 21/11/2022

Brain Areas Within the Head (+what they do)

Today’s blog post focuses on ‘brain areas within the head’. We begin with a brief overview of the human brain. This is then followed by understanding the difference between the central and peripheral nervous systems. We then look into the central nervous system in detail, along with the deep brain structures,the lobes, the ventricle and cerebrospinal fluid, the skull and the grey and white matter.This is also  followed by the details of the peripheral nervous system. Lastly we look into the cells within the brain, which form a crucial brain area in the head.

Brain Areas Within the Head

The brain is a beautiful organ that weighs about 3 pounds and controls all the functions of the body, interprets the information from the environment and is often seen as a connecting entity between the body and the soul. It is one of the largest and the most complex organs in the human body.

We would be discussing the various brain areas within the head in detail.

The Human Brain:

The brain is an organ that is made up of a large mass of nerve tissue and is protected within the skull. It is divided into two hemispheres namely, the left hemisphere and the right hemisphere. It also comprises several billion nerves that communicate with each other with connections known as synapses.

The brain governs all the functions of the body right from memory, intelligence, creativity and emotions along with several other functions. It also governs our senses namely smell, touch, hearing, taste and sight. 

The brain helps us make sense of the information that is presented to us, helps us retain it and also retrieve it as and when necessary. It also controls the movement of the limbs, our speech and functioning of several organs within the body.

Two types of nervous systems:

The brain comprises two types of nervous systems which comprise of all the brain areas within the head.

Central Nervous System (CNS)

The central nervous system comprises the brain and the spinal cord. It undertakes almost all the crucial functions within the body. The spinal cord within the CNS is responsible for the reflexes which occur without the participation of any of the brain structures. The CNS is covered with the cerebrospinal fluid 

Peripheral Nervous System (PNS)

The peripheral nervous system comprises the spinal nerves that branch from the brain and the cranial nerves that branch from the spinal cord.

Brain Areas Within the Head (+what they do)

The Central Nervous System (CNS)

Brain is an important part of the CNS. It is composed of the cerebrum, cerebellum and brainstem.

Cerebrum:

It is the highest part of the brain that is composed of the left hemisphere and the right hemisphere. The left and the right hemisphere are connected to each other through a network of nerves known as corpus callosum which helps in transmitting messages from one half to another. The right hemisphere controls creativity, spatial ability, artistic ability and music skills while the left hemisphere controls comprehension, arithmetic, speech and writing. Each hemisphere controls the opposite sides of the body. 

Taken together, the cerebrum interprets touch, vision and hearing, speech, reasoning, emotions, learning and fine motor movements.

Cerebellum:

The cerebellum is a curved mass of nerve tissue located beneath the cerebrum and is primarily responsible for maintaining muscle movements, fine motor skills, posture and balance of the body. It enables us to move rapidly and smoothly.

Brainstem:

The lowermost part of the brain is the brain stem which leads to the spinal cord. It consists of nerve fibres that carries signals to and from the body and can be called a relay centre. It also regulates other functions such as consciousness, fatigue, heart rate, body temperature, sleep wake cycle, digestation, sneezing, coughing, vomiting and blood pressure (involuntary body functions). Damage to the brain stem can lead to loss of consciousness and in severe cases brain death.

Lobes in the brain:

Both the hemispheres have distinct grooves, known as fissures which divide the brain into different lobes. There are 4 lobes in the hemispheres which formulate some important brain areas within the head.

Frontal lobe:

The frontal lobe is located right under the forehead and controls the personality, behaviour, emotions, judgement, planning, problem solving, speech(speaking and writing) which is controlled by the Broca’s area within the lobe along with body movements, intelligence, concentration and self-awareness.

Parietal lobe:

The parietal lobe is located at the top and back of the head, above the ears. It is associated with interpretation of language, words, sense of touch, pain and temperature, interpretation of signals from vision, motor,hearing, sensory and memory and is involved in the perception of visual and spatial stimulus.

Occipital lobe:

The occipital lobe is located at the extreme end at the back of the head and it interprets vision and associated functions such as light, colour, movement.

Temporal lobe:

The temporal lobe is located at the side of the head, above the ears, immediately behind and below the frontal lobe. It has the Wernike’s area which comprehends language. The lobe also controls hearing, memory, sequencing and organisation. 

Deep structures within the brain:

Hypothalamus:

Controls behaviours such as hunger, sleep, thirst and sexual response. It also regulates the body temperature, blood pressure, emotions and secretion of hormones. 

Pituitary gland:

The gland is connected to the hypothalamus with the help of the pituitary stalk. It is known as the master gland and controls the endocrine glands within the body. It secretes hormones responsible for sexual development, promoting bone and muscle growth as well as stress response. 

Pineal gland:

It is responsible for controlling the body’s internal clock and circadian rhythms by secreting melatonin. It also plays a fair role in sexual development.

Thalamus:

It is the relay station of the brain and relays all the information that comes and goes from the cortex. It also plays a role in memory, attention, pain sensation and alertness.

Basal ganglia:

It works with the cerebellum to coordinate the fine motor movements.

Limbic system:

It controls emotions, memory and learning. It comprises the cingulate gyrus, hypothalamus, amygdala (emotion) and hippocampus (memory).

Ventricles and cerebrospinal fluid:

The brain has small hollow cavities which are filled with fluid and these are known as ventricles. These ventricles consist of a ribbon-like structure called choroid plexus which produces the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The CSF is a clear, colourless fluid which flows around the brain and the spinal cord and acts as a cushion to protect it from injury. CSF is regularly absorbed and produced in the brain. CSF build-up can cause enlargement in the ventricles or cause a collection of fluid in the spinal cord, both of which can be dangerous.

Skull:

Skulls is a bony structure that covers the brain. It is intended to protect the brain from injuries. It has three distinct areas namely, anterior fossa, middle fossa and posterior fossa.

Grey matter and white matter:

The brain is made up of the grey matter and white matter which are two types of tissues.the grey matter analyzes information while the white matter conducts information between grey matters. The ratio of grey matter and white matter changes over the lifespan.

The Peripheral Nervous System (PNS)

The primary function of the PNS is to connect the CNS to all the organs, lims and skin with the help of the cranial nerves and the spinal nerves.

The PNS is divided into two parts namely the somatic nervous system and the autonomic nervous system.

Somatic Nervous System:

It is a part of the PNS which is responsible for carrying sensory and motor information to and from the CNS. it consists of the sensory neurons and motor neurons. The sensory neurons carry information from the nerves to the CNS while motor neurons carry the information from the CNS to different body parts.

Autonomic Nervous System:

It controls all the involuntary functions of the body such as breathing, sneezing, heart rate, digestion etc. It has two branches, the sympathetic nervous system and parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system regulates the fight or flight response while the parasympathetic nervous system maintains normal body functions and conserves body’s resources. 

The cells within the brain:

The brain is made up of two types of cells constituting one of the important brain areas within the head:

Neurons (nerve cells):

The neurons are spread all across the body in the nerves and transmit information through chemical and electrical signals. They communicate with each other through a tiny gap between the neurons, known as synapse in which the neurons release neurotransmitters to facilitate communication.

Glia cells:

These cells provide nourishment, protection and structural support to the neurons. These are the most common cells involved in brain tumors. These cells regulate the brain blood barrier, they create the myelin sheath which provides insulation to the neuron and facilitates transfer of signals, helps secrete CSF and function as immune cells which clean up the debris in the brain such as excess CSF. 

Frequently Asked Questions:Brain Areas Within the Head

What part of the brain can you live without?

Although cerebellum is an important part of the brain, it is possible to survive without it as it is not responsible for any of the life sustaining functions. There have been nine known cases where people have survived cerebellar agenesis, a condition where the cerebellum does not develop.

What area of the brain controls happiness?

Happiness leads to the activation of  several brain areas within the head, including the right frontal cortex, the precuneus, the left amygdala, and the left insula. This activity involves connecting between awareness (frontal cortex and insula) and the “feeling center” (amygdala) of the brain.

Can a brain dead person be alive?

Brain death involves a complete loss of brain function (including involuntary activity necessary to sustain life). It is different  from a persistent vegetative state, in which the person is alive and some autonomic functions remain.

Can the brain repair itself after a stroke?

The initial recovery after stroke is most likely due to decreased swelling of brain tissue, removal of toxins from the brain, and improvement in the circulation of blood in the brain.The damaged cells, if not damaged beyond repair, will begin to heal and function more normally.

How fast can the brain process words?

The human brain is capable of processing words much faster than a person is able to speak. The speed of speech for an American is about 125 words per minute while the human brain can process about 800 words per minute

Conclusion:

Today’s blog post focused on ‘brain areas within the head’. We began with a brief overview of the human brain. This was then followed by understanding the difference between the central and peripheral nervous systems. We then looked into the central nervous system in detail, along with the deep brain structures,the lobes, the ventricle and cerebrospinal fluid, the skull and the grey and white matter.This was also followed by the details of the peripheral nervous system. Lastly we looked into the cells within the brain, which form a crucial brain area in the head.

I hope the blog post was able to provide an in-depth understanding of the brain areas within the head to our readers. Please feel free to drop in any comments or queries below.

References:

http://www.mayfieldclinic.com/pe-anatbrain.htm

https://bouve.northeastern.edu/nutraumaticbraininjury/braintbi-anatomy/brain-functions/

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-the-peripheral-nervous-system-2795465

https://www.emedicinehealth.com/anatomy_of_the_central_nervous_system/article_em.htm