Sunday, 14 June 2015

Facts about the human brain

The human brain is the command center for the human nervous system. It receives input from the sensory organs and sends output to the muscles. The human brain has the same basic structure as other mammal brains, but is larger in relation to body size than any other brains.

Facts about the human brain

  • The human brain is the largest brain of all vertebrates relative to body size
  • It weighs about 3.3 pounds (1.5 kilograms)
  • The brain makes up about 2 percent of a human's body weight
  • The cerebrum makes up 85 percent of the brain's weight
  • It contains about 86 billion nerve cells (neurons), the "gray matter"
  • It contains billions of nerve fibers (axons and dendrites), the "white matter"
  • These neurons are connected by trillions of connections, or synapses

Anatomy of the human brain

The largest part of the human brain is the cerebrum, which is divided into two hemispheres. Underneath lies the brainstem, and behind that sits the cerebellum. The outermost layer of the cerebrum is the cerebral cortex, which consists of four lobes: the frontal lobe, the parietal lobe, the temporal lobe and the occipital lobe. [Related: Nervous System: Facts, Functions & Diseases]
Like all vertebrate brains, the human brain develops from three sections known as the forebrain, midbrain and hindbrain. Each of these contains fluid-filled cavities called ventricles. The forebrain develops into the cerebrum and underlying structures; the midbrain becomes part of the brainstem; and the hindbrain gives rise to regions of the brainstem and the cerebellum.

The cerebral cortex is greatly enlarged in human brains, and is considered the seat of complex thought. Visual processing takes place in the occipital lobe, near the back of the skull. The temporal lobe processes sound and language, and includes the hippocampus and amygdala, which play roles in memory and emotion, respectively. The parietal lobe integrates input from different senses and is important for spatial orientation and navigation.
The brainstem connects to the spinal cord and consists of the medulla oblongata, pons and midbrain. The primary functions of the brainstem include: relaying information between the brain and the body; supplying some of the cranial nerves to the face and head; and performing critical functions in controlling the heart, breathing and consciousness.
Between the cerebrum and brainstem lie the thalamus and hypothalamus. The thalamus relays sensory and motor signals to the cortex and is involved in regulating consciousness, sleep and alertness. The hypothalamus connects the nervous system to the endocrine system — where hormones are produced — via the pituitary gland.
The cerebellum lies beneath the cerebrum and has important functions in motor control. It plays a role in coordination and balance, and may also have some cognitive functions.

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