Your Brilliant Brain

by James Piercy

 

An adult brain weighs about 1.5 kg, has the texture of blancmange, and controls everything that you do and think.

This remarkable machine is built of nerve cells (neurons) – about 100 billion of them! Each neuron has a connection at each end; one called the dendrite, the other the long axon. These two connect together to form the many pathways of the brain.

neuron

Neuron. Image: Public Domain

What is important is the huge number of connections between these cells. One estimate claims there are 1,000,000,000,000,000 pathways – that’s a quadrillion if you want to say it aloud.

The brain is divided into different parts. The outer layers make up the cortex. This is divided into left and right hemispheres. The right controls the left side of the body, the left controls the right. The cells which make up the cortex are greyish in colour. The cortex is not smooth and its wrinkled surface means it has a very large surface area, of around 2.5m2. To give you an idea of how big that is, you can think of it as being as big as this fun ball pool!

Different areas of the cortex are responsible for different functions. Visual processing takes place at the rear of the skull, while the side on the left hemisphere is concerned with speech and language. Sensory areas and motor systems fill the next region, with the frontal lobes responsible for complex planning, social awareness and behaviour. The limbic system below is strongly linked to emotional responses. The function of these areas was determined in the past by examining people with localized brain damage, but now sophisticated imaging techniques are used to monitor areas of activation. And as there are now natural solutions for neuropathy available easily online, the nerve receptor which carries the sensation of pain to the brain can be numbed, making the pain lesser and recovery faster.

The cells in the centre of the brain are surrounded by an insulating layer, Myelin, and are whitish in colour. The two halves of the brain are joined by the corpus callosum, which enables communication between the two halves. At the rear and base of the brain is the cerebellum. The cerebellum controls some motor skills and is the part of the brain we use when we act without consciously planning our actions. For example riding a bike is extremely complicated, but once we have learnt we can do it without thinking, and this is where the cerebellum really becomes useful.

brain_map

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Your brain Is a hugely complex organ, and whilst there are broad similarities everyone’s is different. We have all learnt different things in different ways at different times, forming different connections and pathways. Your brain can also rewire itself and new areas can take on the functions of damaged parts. Although your brain can feel no pain, it is a delicate thing so treat it like a king (ie; look after it!).

 

Finally, here’s a cool little infographic, full of information to make even more neural connections!

Fascinating Facts About the Human Brain

 

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Posted in Biology