BRAIN

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The brain is the crown jewel of the human body. For centuries, scientists and philosophers have been fascinated by the brain, but until recently they viewed the brain as nearly incomprehensible. Now, however, the brain is beginning to relinquish its secrets. Scientists have learned more about the brain in the last 10 years than in all previous centuries because of the accelerating pace of research in neurological and behavioral science and the development of new research techniques.

As a result, Congress named the s the Decade of the Brain. At the forefront of research on the brain and other elements of the nervous system is the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke NINDS , which conducts and supports scientific studies in the United States and around the world.

This fact sheet is a basic introduction to the human brain. It may help you understand how the healthy brain works, how to keep it healthy, and what happens when the brain is diseased or dysfunctional. The brain is like a committee of experts. All the parts of the brain work together, but each part has its own special properties.

The cerebellum coordinates movement and is involved in learned rote movements. When you play the piano or hit a tennis ball you are activating the cerebellum.

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The uppermost part of the brainstem is the midbrain, which controls some reflex actions and is part of the circuit involved in the control of eye movements and other voluntary movements. When people see pictures of the brain it is usually the cerebrum that they notice. The cerebrum sits at the topmost part of the brain and is the source of intellectual activities.

It holds your memories, allows you to plan, enables you to imagine and think. It allows you to recognize friends, read books, and play games. The cerebrum is split into two halves hemispheres by a deep fissure. Despite the split, the two cerebral hemispheres communicate with each other through a thick tract of nerve fibers that lies at the base of this fissure.


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Although the two hemispheres seem to be mirror images of each other, they are different. For instance, the ability to form words seems to lie primarily in the left hemisphere, while the right hemisphere seems to control many abstract reasoning skills. For some as-yet-unknown reason, nearly all of the signals from the brain to the body and vice-versa cross over on their way to and from the brain. This means that the right cerebral hemisphere primarily controls the left side of the body and the left hemisphere primarily controls the right side. When one side of the brain is damaged, the opposite side of the body is affected.


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For example, a stroke in the right hemisphere of the brain can leave the left arm and leg paralyzed. Each cerebral hemisphere can be divided into sections, or lobes, each of which specializes in different functions.

Human brain

When you plan a schedule, imagine the future, or use reasoned arguments, these two lobes do much of the work. One of the ways the frontal lobes seem to do these things is by acting as short-term storage sites, allowing one idea to be kept in mind while other ideas are considered. These areas receive information about temperature, taste, touch, and movement from the rest of the body. Reading and arithmetic are also functions in the repertoire of each parietal lobe. As you look at the words and pictures on this page, two areas at the back of the brain are at work.

Damage to the occipital lobes can cause blindness. Whether you appreciate symphonies or rock music, your brain responds through the activity of these lobes. At the top of each temporal lobe is an area responsible for receiving information from the ears. The underside of each temporal lobe plays a crucial role in forming and retrieving memories, including those associated with music.

Other parts of this lobe seem to integrate memories and sensations of taste, sound, sight, and touch. Coating the surface of the cerebrum and the cerebellum is a vital layer of tissue the thickness of a stack of two or three dimes. It is called the cortex, from the Latin word for bark. Most of the actual information processing in the brain takes place in the cerebral cortex. When people talk about "gray matter" in the brain they are talking about this thin rind. The cortex is gray because nerves in this area lack the insulation that makes most other parts of the brain appear to be white.

The folds in the brain add to its surface area and therefore increase the amount of gray matter and the quantity of information that can be processed.

Look for any thought patterns or emotions that seem to be impacting your day-to-day life. They could be a sign of an underlying, treatable psychological condition. An illness, your genetics, or even a traumatic injury can cause a brain disorder. We'll explain the types, what they look like, and what the outlook….

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Your brain may not be a muscle, but working it and your actual muscles can keep your brain healthy and functioning at its best. Here's what you need…. Alzheimer's disease is a progressive form of dementia that interferes with memory, thinking, and behavior.

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Facts about the human brain

Brain Overview. Anatomy and function Brain diagram Conditions Symptoms Health tips Healthline and our partners may receive a portion of revenues if you make a purchase using a link on this page. What is the brain?

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Anatomy and function. Brain diagram. Brain conditions.

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