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  • Isabelle Nichol

The Human Brain: Understanding its Three Main Sections

By: Isabelle Nichol, Contributing Writer

Edited by: Fauzia, Editor; Elias Azizi, Editor in Chief


The human brain is a complex organ that keeps every human in our society running. This complex structure can be broken down into 3 more easily identifiable sections: the cerebrum, cerebellum, and brain stem. The cerebrum is the most significant portion, housing each pair of lobes. It interprets stimuli as well as manages emotions and learning.


The way that this organ functions can be described quite simply as nerves transporting signals throughout the brain. The brain then in turn interprets the signals as whatever they’re meant to be (such as an emotion or sensation in the body). The nerves will then transport these interpreted signals to the rest of the body’s nerves almost instantaneously.


The cerebrum is divided into a left and right side, however, each half is designed to work with the other to ensure that the brain functions properly. Each side of the cerebrum controls the opposite side of the body, for example, the left side controls the right side of the body. These ‘separate’ sides are held together by large amounts of nerves known as ‘white matter’. The four separate lobe pairs are the frontal, parietal, occipital, and temporal lobes. As the name would suggest, the frontal lobe is placed at the front of the cerebrum. The primary function of this portion lies in conscious acts such as some movements, decision-making, and speech. The frontal lobe is also the largest of the four. The parietal lobe is located in the centre of the cerebrum. This lobe handles the processing of most sensory input that the brain collects. This processing also includes pain, as it’s linked to the sensation of touch. The Wernicke’s area, which helps the brain understand oral language, is also located here. The occipital lobe, located in the back of the brain, mostly controls visual stimuli. The final lobe, the temporal lobe, is situated near the ears and is mostly linked to interpreting audio stimuli. Some examples of this would be spoken language and musical rhythm. The temporal lobe is also involved with the recognition of people, places, and words.


The next sizable portion of the brain is the cerebellum. It can almost be pictured as a miniature version of the cerebrum and is located at the back of the brain, underneath the cerebrum; it actually operates similarly to the lobes located in the cerebrum. The word cerebellum in Latin actually means “little brain”. The cerebellum houses two hemispheres. Due to a lack of research and proper technology, scientists studying the brain believed that the cerebellum had a much smaller role than it truly plays. Originally, scientists thought that it simply controlled muscle movements. However, through studies on individuals with a damaged cerebellum, we’ve discovered that it covers a lot more ground. The research done on the cerebellum doesn’t seem to be as concrete as the research done on the cerebrum’s many lobes, but we still know a fair amount about this significant component of the brain.


As of 2022, according to the Cleveland Clinic, scientists have used new technology to create images of brain activity while individuals complete certain tasks, and through this, different parts of the cerebellum appear to be “activated” when completing different tasks. This would indicate that the cerebellum has a much larger role to play than simply controlling muscle movement.


The final primary portion of the brain to explain would be the brain stem. The brainstem is located near the base of the cerebrum, and to be more specific, it’s lodged between the spinal cord and the two hemispheres of the cerebrum. The brainstem itself is also divided into three sections, just like the brain. These three sections are considered the midbrain, the pons, and the medulla oblongata. The brain stem’s purpose as a whole is to regulate subconscious actions such as breathing and organ function. This tiny organ plays a critical role in brain function, and any damage to the brain stem can be incredibly harmful, even causing what can be considered “brain death” if its function is sufficiently impaired.


The midbrain, with the medical name mesencephalon, contributes to proper motor movement especially when it concerns auditory and visual organs. The pons, also known as pons varolii, acts as a pathway for nerves, linking the cerebrum and the cerebral cortex. It also transports sensory input between the facial region and the brain. The last portion of the brainstem is the medulla oblongata. This structure is mainly focused on aiding in the process of automated, or subconscious functions in the human body. Some of these functions are breathing, and function in organs such as the heart where it’s constantly pumping blood in and out of the organ.


To conclude, the brain is an incredibly powerful organ. These intricate functions and processes have been heavily simplified to make them comprehensible to most people. The brain is capable of even more than what was described in this article.



Sources:


Cleveland Clinic Medical. “Brain: Definition, Function, Anatomy & Parts.” Cleveland Clinic, 30 Mar.

2022, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/22638-brain.


Cleveland Clinic Medical. “Cerebellum: What It Is, Function & Anatomy.” Cleveland Clinic, 7 July

2022, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/23418-cerebellum.


The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Medulla Oblongata.” Encyclopædia Britannica, 20 July

1998, www.britannica.com/science/medulla-oblongata.


The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Pons.” Encyclopædia Britannica, 20 July 1998,

www.britannica.com/science/pons-anatomy.


John Hopkins Medicine. “Brain Anatomy and How the Brain Works.” JHM, 14 July 2021,

www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/anatomy-of-the-

brain#:~:text=Lobes%20of%20the%20Brain%20and,Each%20lobe%20controls%

20specific%20functions.


Rogers, Kara. “Hindbrain.” Encyclopædia Britannica, 1 Apr. 2009,

www.britannica.com/science/hindbrain.


Rogers, Kara. “Midbrain.” Encyclopædia Britannica, 1 Apr. 2009,

www.britannica.com/science/midbrain.




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