The Brain Has Many Parts - An Overview
The brain is the most complicated and mystifying part of the human body, responsible for everything from controlling our movements to enabling us to think and feel. Each part of the brain serves its specific functions and interacts with the rest of the brain.
Because the brain is so interconnected, even minor trauma to one part can cause a cascade effect, significantly disrupting our quality of life. Concussions are often underreported and far more common than we realize. If you or a loved one have fallen or been in a car accident, be on the lookout for signs of a concussion.
In this blog post, we will provide a simple explanation of the parts of the brain.
The cerebrum is the largest part of the brain. It's responsible for most of our conscious thought and behavior. It is divided into two hemispheres, the left and right, connected by a bundle of nerve fibers called the corpus callosum. The cerebrum is subdivided into lobes, each with its specialization. One of our attorneys has represented a brain injury victim where there was a shear injury to the corpus callosum - breaking the communication between the two sides of the brain. The woman, in her 30s, was tragically left with the brain function of a small child.
The frontal lobe is located, just as it sounds, at the front of the brain. It processes many of our higher-level cognitive functions, such as decision-making, planning, and problem-solving. It is also involved in controlling our movements and emotions. Unfortunately, damage to this part of the brain is common in head injuries. For example, a car wreck's rapid acceleration and deceleration may cause frontal lobe injury. In addition, a common symptom of frontal lobe injuries is trouble with executive functioning. Executive functioning is our ability to be the executive of our day, stay organized, get from place to place, and follow through on tasks.
The parietal lobe is located at the top and back of the brain. It handles processing sensory information from the body, such as touch, temperature, and pressure. It is also involved in spatial awareness and perception. Trauma to the parietal lobe from a head injury can cause a changed or diminished sense of smell, balance problems, and other issues.
The temporal lobe is located on the sides of the brain, near the ears. It is responsible for processing auditory information and recognizing faces and objects. It is also crucial to memory formation and storage. Injury to the temporal lobe can make it challenging to learn new information and damage long-term memory. The temporal lobes are also involved in language, so injury to them can impact how we speak.
The occipital lobe is located at the back of the brain. It processes visual information from the eyes. As a result, it impacts the perception of colors and the ability to recognize things.
The cerebellum is located below the occipital lobe at the back of the brain. It controls our movements and balance. It receives input from the sensory systems and sends signals to the motor systems to coordinate movements. A damaged cerebellum can make it difficult for someone to walk.
The brainstem is located at the base of the brain and connects the brain to the spinal cord. Many automatic functions we take for granted, such as breathing, heart rate, and digestion, run through the brainstem. In addition, it regulates our sleep and consciousness.
The midbrain is located in the center of the brainstem. It is part of what controls our eye movements and relays sensory and motor information between the brainstem and the cerebrum.
The pons is located above the medulla oblongata. It is another part of the brain that controls breathing, sleep, and facial movements.
The medulla oblongata is located at the base of the brainstem. It also involves many vital functions, like breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure.
The thalamus is located in the center of the brain. It helps transmit sensory information from the body to the cerebrum. It regulates consciousness and sleep.
The hypothalamus is located below the thalamus and regulates hunger, thirst, body temperature, and sleep. It also plays a role in releasing hormones from the pituitary gland.
The amygdala is located in the temporal lobe and is involved in processing emotions, especially fear and aggression. It is part of the reason a temporal lobe brain injury can dramatically change someone's personality.
The hippocampus is also located in the temporal lobe, functioning in memory formation and storage, and learning.
The basal ganglia are a group of structures located deep within the cerebrum. They contribute to controlling movement and posture, as well as learning and responding to rewards.
Other essential anatomical parts around the brain include cranial nerves, which run through the skull, and the pituitary gland, part of the endocrine system that impacts growth and development. As you can see, the brain is an ecosystem in which the distinct parts interact and depend on each other. Multiple parts of the brain contribute to a single experience, for instance, our ability to sleep or learn new information.
Understanding the parts of the brain can help you ask the doctor informed questions if you or a loved one are in treatment for a brain injury. You can talk to our personal injury attorneys on the phone or at our offices in San Jose and Salinas if you have questions about a brain injury case. Consults are free. Call 888 311-4050.