Anatomy of the Brain

The human brain is an amazing three-pound organ that controls all functions of the body, interprets information from the outside world, and embodies the essence of the mind and soul. Intelligence, creativity, emotion, and memory are a few of the many things governed by the brain. Protected within the skull, the brain is composed of the cerebrum, cerebellum, and brainstem. The brainstem acts as a relay center connecting the cerebrum and cerebellum to the spinal cord.

Functions of brain:

  • The brain receives information through our five senses: sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing – often many at one time.
  • It assembles the messages in a way that has meaning for us, and can store that information in our memory.
  • The brain controls our thoughts, memory and speech, movement of the arms and legs, and the function of many organs within our body.
  • It also determines how we respond to stressful situations (such as taking a test, losing a job, or suffering an illness) by regulating our heart and breathing rate.

Nervous system

  • The nervous system is divided into central and peripheral systems.
  • The central nervous system (CNS) is composed of the brain and spinal cord.
  • The peripheral nervous system (PNS) is composed of spinal nerves that branch from the spinal cord and cranial nerves that branch from the brain.
  • The PNS includes the autonomic nervous system, which controls vital functions such as breathing, digestion, heart rate, and secretion of hormones.

Skull

  • The purpose of the bony skull is to protect the brain from injury.
  • The skull is formed from 8 bones that fuse together along suture lines.
  • These bones include the frontal, parietal (2), temporal (2), sphenoid, occipital and ethmoid.
  • The face is formed from 14 paired bones: the maxilla, zygoma, nasal, palatine, lacrimal, inferior nasal conchae, mandible, and vomer.
  • Inside the skull are three distinct areas: anterior fossa, middle fossa, and posterior fossa. Doctors sometimes refer to a tumor’s location by these terms, e.g., middle fossa meningioma.
  • Similar to cables coming out the back of a computer, all the arteries, veins and nerves exit the base of the skull through holes, called foramina.
  • The big hole in the middle (foramen magnum) is where the spinal cord exits.
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