Anatomy of the Brain
The human brain is a soft, gelatinous organ that occupies the skull and weighs around three pounds in an average-size adult. It is suspended in a fluid called the cerebrospinal fluid, and together with the spinal cord comprises the central nervous system.
The outermost appearance of the cerebral hemispheres consists of folds and depressions (gyri and sulci) which are named according to their location. At the bottom of the hemispheres are the brain stem and the cerebellum.
Aside from the bony skull which houses the brain, it is also protected by an outer covering called the meninges which likewise enclose the cerebrospinal fluid. This fluid’s circulation is isolated from the general circulation by the blood-brain barrier which is also a protective feature although not completely impenetrable, especially during times of decreased resistance.
Learn more about the central nervous system and the other parts of the brain or its anatomy from these resources.
- Key Parts of the Brain
- Parts of the Brain That Control Memory
- Teaching the Parts of the Brain
- Teaching the Difference Between the Left and Right Hemisphere
- Parts of the Nervous System
- What is the Blood Brain Barrier?
Brain Cell Structure
The brain consists of billions of neurons which conduct electro-chemical signals to and from the brain and nervous system. Other types of brain cells include glial cells which are more numerous than the neurons and serve to support their function. Neurons have conducting fibers which vary in length and may be as short as a fraction of an inch to several feet long. Branches of these fibers form networks where chemical signals occur through synapses.
- Guide to Brain Cells: Insights into Neurons and Glial Cells
- Understanding the Structure of the Nerve Cell
- Understanding Synapses of the Brain
- The Basis Of Artificial Intelligence - Can Neurons Be Emulated Digitally?
Physiology of the Brain: Functions
People often take their brain function for granted. Although thinking and willfully performing most actions are obviously carried out through conscious thought processes, many of our bodily functions such as regular breathing, blinking and yawning are under the control of the brain.
Specialized functions of the brain are under the influence of the different brain centers which act in a coordinated manner. Networks of billions of cells work like parallel processing units upon which artificial intelligence machines or computers are being modeled. Of course, the brain, in coordination with the rest of the nervous system is much more superior to any computer, machine or robot.
The electrochemical processes that take place in every brain function involve the release, binding and reabsorption of chemicals known as neurotransmitters within the synapses or junctions between cells. Balance among the different types of neurotransmitters like acetylcholine, dopamine and serotonin is important to maintain homeostasis. Many brain disorders or neurologic conditions are thought to be brought about by certain imbalances in the production, release or reabsorption of these neuro-chemicals.
Find more help about the physiology or functions of the brain in these study guides which may also be appropriate teaching tools for teachers and students:
- Study Guide for the Different Functions of the Brain
- Study Guide for the Function and Structure of Neurons
- Study Guide for Left and Right Brain Learning
- Guide to Health, Function, and Study of the Brain
- Study Guide for the Neurotransmitters in the Brain
- Teaching the Different Functions of the Brain
- Teaching the Function and Structure of Neurons
- Teaching According to Thinking Styles
- Teaching the Neurotransmitters in the Brain
Diseases and Conditions that Affect the Brain
There are many conditions that can affect the structure, function and the development of the brain. These include genetic, developmental and environmental factors such as infections, pollution and drug intake. Physical and psychological trauma can also cause changes in brain function.
- Traumatic Brain Injuries : Resourceful Education Websites
- How Trauma Affects Learning, Memory and Attention
- What Is Hydrocephalus?
- Information about West Nile Virus
- What is Kuru Disease?
- Kuru Disease Mutations and Brain Diseases
- Dyslexia and the Brain’s Language Processing Centers
- The Three Types of Dyslexia
- Types of Autism and Brain Development: How it Affects Learning
- Effects of the Pesticides Used in the EU and US on the Human Brain
- The Effect of Drugs on the Brain
Taking Care of the Brain
Just as we take care of other parts of the body, we can follow a number of steps and exercises to ensure that the brain is in tip-top shape. Although it is a highly potent organ that controls all our thoughts, bodily processes and activities it is said to be much underused, in that there is always more we can do to improve memory, analytical reasoning, and problem solving abilities. We just need to know how.
- Brain Gym Lessons
- Brain Gym Exercises: Lazy Eights and Double Doodles
- Brain Gym: Ways to Exercise the Mind
- Brain Gym Ideas: Helping to Eliminate Letter Reversals
- The 5 Best Online Brain Training Websites for Schools
- Best Free Online Brain Games for Kids and Adults
- The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain-A Parent Guide to Help Students Study at Home
- How Exercising the Brain and An Active Learning Environment Benefits All Students
- Improving Memory in TBI Patients
- Students with Autism - Using Neurofeedback to Retrain the Brain
Image: Human Brain by John A Beal, PhD under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license
Image: The Neuron by LadyofHats under public domain