Brain Anatomy and Functions
The brain is broken down into five of the major parts, listed below in the order they develop.
1. Brainstem: responsible for the most basic functions necessary for survival, including breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure
2. Cerebellum: controls balance, involuntary movement, and coordination of movements
3. Limbic System: primarily responsible for processing emotions; contains the amygdala, the area of the brain that controls emotions and behavior, and the hippocampus, the area that controls memory formation
4. Basal Ganglia: a collection of nuclei that connect with the cerebral cortex to influence voluntary movement and cognitive functions
5. Cerebral Cortex: responsible for processing our conscience experiences; is divided into the right and left hemispheres which are connected by a band of fibers called the corpus callosum
The brain can also be divided into four lobes, each of which specializes in controlling distinct functions.
1. Frontal Lobe: controls higher-order thinking process; contains Broca’s area, which is responsible for producing speech
2. Parietal Lobe: responsible for the perception of touch, spatial perception, and motor coordination
3. Occipital Lobe: responsible for processing visual information
4. Temporal Lobe: controls hearing as well as the ability to process and use language; contains Wernicke’s area, which is responsible for understanding language
Axon Anatomy and Functions
Neurons are basic brain cells that communicate with each other through electrical signals. Neurons are comprised of three parts:
1. Cell body or soma: the command center of the neuron; determines whether to send signals to other neurons
2. Dendrites: bring in information from other neurons; each neuron has many dendrites that connect to the axons of other neurons
3. Axon: sends information to other neurons; each neuron has one axon with many terminals that connect to the dendrites of other neurons
Neurons are assisted by glial cells, or glia, which provide the necessary support that enables neurons to function effectively.
Every function in the brain occurs due to the communication between neurons. The communication process occurs very quickly in the following order:
1. Dendrites receive signals from other neurons
2. The cell body tells the neurons to fire
3. The signal travels through the axon
4. The signal crosses the synapse, a microscopic gap between the axon of one neuron and the dendrites of another
5. Dendrites of other neurons receive the signal