Brain Anatomy and Parts of the Brain

Brain Anatomy and Parts of the Brain

The brain along with the spinal cord forms the central nervous system (CNS), which is responsible for regulating the human behavior. The following article provides information about the anatomy of the brain and its important parts.
Brain is a part of the central nervous system, which functions as the primary receiver, organizer, and distributor of information of the body. It regulates all the major activities of the body such as perception, cognition, attention, emotion, memory, and action. It is estimated that the brain is made up of about 80-86 billion nerve cells. It is suspended in the cerebrospinal fluid continuous with the spinal cord (structure made up of neurons and nerve fibers) and enclosed within the skull.

The CNS is separated from the rest of the body by a cellular structure known as the blood-brain barrier. This barrier also acts as a filter and restricts the passage of chemical substances and microscopic particles inside the brain. However, it allows access to only those substances which are required for metabolism, like oxygen. It is due to this fact that infection in the human brain is rare, as compared to other organs of the body. However, many of the psychiatric and genetically inherited diseases, for example, schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis respectively, are caused due to dysfunctions of the brain.

Different Parts of the Brain

Talking about brain parts, it is made up of three major segments - forebrain, midbrain, and hindbrain. Each segment consists of different interdependent parts.

The Forebrain
The forebrain is the largest segment of the brain located in the uppermost part of the skull. It consists of the cerebrum, the thalamus, and the hypothalamus.

Cerebrum- The cerebrum or the cortex is the largest part of the brain. Its functions include thinking, reasoning, and remembering. The cerebrum is separated into two hemispheres (right and left) by a deep groove called the longitudinal cerebral fissure. The right hemisphere controls the left side of the body and vice versa. The cerebrum can be divided into four sections or lobes, namely, frontal, parietal, occipital, and temporal lobe. Frontal lobe is responsible for personality characteristics, parietal lobe controls interpretation of pain, occipital lobe is involved with vision, and temporal lobe is responsible for memory, smell, and speech.

The outer layer of the cerebrum is composed of nerve cells (called the gray matter), which control the activity of the brain; and the inner portion is made up of axons (nerve fibers) which is called the white matter. The axons which are covered by myelin sheath, are responsible for transferring information in between the nerve cells.

Thalamus and Hypothalamus- Thalamus is a part of the brain consisting of two ovoid structures, which are composed of a large mass of gray matter. It is situated deep inside the forebrain, at the base of the cerebrum. The functions of thalamus include both sensory and motor behavior.

Hypothalamus is referred to as "the brain of the brain". The main function of hypothalamus is homeostasis and control of all the autonomic regulatory activities of the body such as temperature and cardiovascular regulation.

The Midbrain
The midbrain or the mesencephalon is the topmost section of the brainstem (lower part of the brain adjoining the spinal cord). It is made up of the tectum, the tegmentum, and the cerebral peduncles (paired bundle of nerve fibers that carry melanin pigment).

Tectum- The tectum is a roof-like structure, which forms the dorsal part of the midbrain. It consists of the superior and the inferior colliculi, which represent the anterior and posterior pair of nuclei of the tectum. The superior and inferior colliculi control vision and audition respectively.

Tegmentum- Tegmentum on the other hand is the ventral portion of the midbrain that lies within the brainstem. It controls the motor function and regulates other autonomic functions.

The Hindbrain
In the brain diagram it can be seen that the hindbrain is actually located at the upper portion of the spinal cord and is responsible for the vital functions of the body such as respiration and heartbeat. It consists of the cerebellum, pons, and medulla.

Cerebellum- Cerebellum is also referred to as the "little brain" which contains more than 50% of the total neurons. It is situated at the lower side of the brain, in between the cerebrum and the brain stem. Cerebellum is divided into two hemispheres and overall contains 10 lobules. The two hemispheres are connected by white fibers. Like cerebrum, cerebellum also contains gray matter. This part of the brain controls and regulates coordination of movements.

Pons and Medulla- Pons and medulla are parts of the brainstem that connect the brain and the spinal cord. Pons has the control centers for face and eye movements. It has the origins of 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th cranial nerves. Medulla is located at the lowest part of the brain stem and contains control centers for heart and lungs. The cranial nerves 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th originate from medulla.
Brain anatomy labelled
Thalamus Brain Anatomy