The most important and perhaps the most complex organ of human body is the brain. It controls all senses and functions of the body. Human brain weighs about 3 lbs. and is enclosed in a hard bony shell for protection, called skull. Interpreting information collected from different parts of the body and preparing the body for the generation of an appropriate response are some of the physiological tasks of the brain. Cerebrum, cerebellum, diencephalon and brainstem are the primary brain divisions.
For centuries, researchers and scientists have been trying their best to thoroughly explore the human brain structure, but until recently they have been unable to examine it completely and think it something very hard to accomplish. In fact, many of its functions still remain least understood, such as thinking.
This fact sheet is an introduction to the basic structure and functions of human brain.
Human Brain Structure and Functions:
Based on their placement in the front, middle or back areas of skull, the human brain can be divided into three major parts, namely, forebrain, midbrain and hindbrain. These broad divisions are comprised of different smaller divisions, with each having a specific role to play. It oft happens that different parts share responsibility for the completion of the same task. In this way, the overall job of the brain is done in a beautiful manner. In case of a disorder or malfunctioning of any of the structures, the diagnosis is usually a very complex and demanding task. So, you should take special care of this organ. A knowledge of the structure and function of various brain divisions will help you in this regard.
Forebrain – Center for Processing Sensory Information:
The forebrain is considered as the most important part of brain because, on account of its functioning, it distinguishes human from other animals. This part is responsible for processing sensory information, collected by different sensory organs, such as eyes, nose, ears, tongue and skin. It is further divided into two parts, namely, diencephalon and telencephalon. The diencephalon contains thalamus and hypothalamus which control sensory and autonomic processes. Telencephalon contains the biggest part of brain, called cerebrum.
Midbrain – Mediating between Hindbrain and Forebrain:
The midbrain acts as a bridge to transmit signals from hindbrain and forebrain. These signals mostly come from the senses of touch and hearing, collected by the specialized organs, i.e. skin and ears, respectively. The upper part of the midbrain is called optic tectum, which serves to integrate visionary and auditory data.
Hindbrain – Control Center for Visceral Functions:
The hindbrain can be further divided into 3 parts: medulla oblongata, pons and cerebellum. The main function of this human brain structure is to control certain visceral functions in body (including heart rate, breathing and blood pressure). Looking at the tasks assigned to pons, it serves to monitor the sleep and waking up functions while working in coordination with other parts of the nervous system. The cerebellum co-ordinates the movements of arms and legs and also plays a role in processing the sensory information that it receives from visual and auditory systems.
Other Brain Divisions and Their Functions:
Apart from the basic divisions of forebrain, midbrain and hindbrain, the master organ of your body can also be divided along other dimensions. Here follows a precise description of some structurally and functionally important parts of the brain.
The Cortex – Regulation of Voluntary Movements:
Also known as the cerebral cortex, it is the outermost layer of the neural tissues in the cerebrum. The medial longitudinal fissure divides the cortex into two major components, that is, right cerebral hemisphere and left cerebral hemisphere. On the basis of function, it is said to be comprised of motor areas, sensory areas and association areas. Located in both the hemispheres of the cortex, the motor areas are concerned with the regulation of voluntary movements. The right side of your body is controlled by the left half of this area and vice versa. As the name indicates, the sensory areas are associated with the processing of data received from the senses. The primary function of the association areas, on the other hand, is to assist abstract thinking and language. They also help you in producing a meaningful perceptual experience of the world around you.
Brainstem – Regulation of Sleep & Breathing:
Comprised of hindbrain, medulla and pons, the brainstem is the posterior most part of the brain that extends backward to join the spinal cord. This small structure carries much importance in the brain as it provides passage for the nerve connections of sensory and motor systems. The basic functions of brainstem include the control of sleep and breathing.
Lobes of Brain:
The human brain structure can also be divided into several different types of lobes, including parietal, occipital, frontal and temporal lobes. The management of body position, handwriting and sensation falls under the domain of parietal lobes. The occipital lobes house the visual processing system of the brain. The motor function, judgement and problem solving is accomplished in the frontal lobes. The temporal lobes of the brain are associated with the processing of memory and hearing.