Hey guys, what is up, in this article we’re gonna talk a bit more about brain anatomy. In a previous article I already summarized some important points, but here we are gonna go more in depth so that we really understand the inner workings of this misterious entity. There is still a lot to discover, especially on how different brain areas interact in order for our conscious experience to arise. But we already know quite some concepts that are making things more clear every day. Check out the video, and if you want to go over the most important concepts, take a look at the summary underneath. Please enjoy!
The brain is situated inside our skull, and it is the central part of our nervous system. A nervous system is a very intricate segment of an animal. It ensures that animals can move around and sense things. Worms have nervous systems too, and basically all organisms that need to move around have as well.
Now, in the animal species called vertebrates (these are the animals with a backbone, so amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, and some fish like sharks) have a nervous system that is split up in two parts. You have the central nervous system or CNS for short, which includes the spinal cord and brain. And then you have the peripheral nervous system or PNS for short, and these are the nerves that link the central nervous system to all other parts of the body. Another practical way to split the boundary between these two is that the CNS runs inside of bones, while the PNS runs outside of them.
Right, so now we know that the brain is part of the nervous system, which is nested inside of various branches that go around all parts of your body. The brain is like the main control center, it is like the boss in a big company, everyone answers to him.
Brain Anatomy: Hemispheres
Let’s take a closer look at the brain itself. We already know that the brain is divided into two hemispheres. We saw this in the previous article on the split brain. To recap, the left hemisphere is the more logical, linguistic side, and the right one is the more visual one.
Brain Anatomy and Different Regions
Now these hemispheres are cut up into more pieces as follows:
The blue part is called the frontal lobe, and this is also the biggest lobe. This segment deals with tasks such as planning, reasoning, thinking abstract in general, and self-control. So, the fact that we can do stuff like planning a trip or doing math is because this part of our brain is developed really well thanks to evolution. Other animals have frontal lobes as well, but ours is just a little bit better.
The yellow part is called the parietal lobe and has numerous functions. functions. Usually, when you sense something it has to be processed by this lobe. For example, if you are navigating somewhere, then this lobe processes the spatial information that is coming in through your senses. It also processes a lot of information that enters through the skin. For example, it deals with information relating to temperature, so it registers if that you are feeling cold for example, and it also processes pain. There are also parts of the parietal lobe that are very important for the processing of language, but note that language is such a complex thing, that it is distributed more towards other brain regions as well.
Thus, that was the parietal lobe. Let’s move downstairs to the green one, which is called the temporal lobe. The temporal lobe is really cool, because it is in this area where we attribute meanings to the information that we process. So for example, say that you are about to bite in a sandwich, but then you notice that there is a green patch on the bread. You immediately recognize that this is mold, so you find out that “a green patch on bread in this way” means mold. You also know that mold MEANS you shouldn’t eat it, because it is gross and might make you sick. You are able to attribute meaning to things, mostly thanks to the temporal lobe.
Next up, we have this pinkish part in the back, and this is called the occipital lobe. This is known as the visual processing hub of the brains of mammals. So everything you see needs to be processed by this visual area of the brain. It does many things, like differentiating color. We can see millions of different color hues, and that is thanks to this brain area. It is also very useful for coordination of space and movement therein. Let’s say a car is heading towards you and you want to figure out what to do. Thanks to this lobe, you are able to think hmm, the car is going to hit me in about 3 seconds, I should probably move to the left a bet, so I won’t get hit! Brilliant! You just saved a life occipital lobe.
Uncolored Brain Area
The final thing I want to discuss is this whiteish part in the drawing, which is apparently not important enough to be colored! It’s called the cerebellum. Well cerebellum, you are at least important enough to be mentioned in this article
The cerebellum looks like an isolated structure underneath the brain, but it is still part of the brain. It is a very important part for motor control. Motor control is something all animals with a nervous system have. It is the ability to move around in a systematic way. So plants don’t really have this, they can’t really sense danger coming and then run away or defend themselves, whilst even snails can retreat in their shell to protect themselves if you start poking them with a stick.
So, the cerebellum is associated with motor control, there is also this thing called fine motor control, and that is the skill to direct small muscles in the body. For example the muscles in our fingers. You know, we have opposable thumbs, and our excellent skills with our hands allowed us to build tools. Tools became more complex and complex and so did our mind with this. One of the prime reasons that we are able to live now in such complex societies with amazing technology is due to the dexterity we have with our hands. So even though this part of the brain is still a bit primitive, compared to the other lobes, it is still a crucial component of human development and evolution. Fun fact: the brain contains around 100 billion neurons, and the cerebellum incorporates more than half of this! So it has more than 50 billion neurons! Pretty crazy right, who said that the cerebellum is not so interesting.
Let’s put everything we learned into one nice image (because everyone loves a good ol’ visual represention of encephalic concepts):
Carter, R. (2019). The human brain book: An illustrated guide to its structure, function, and disorders. Penguin.