Since your brain is the control panel for your entire body, it doesnâ€™t hurt to get an elementary school lesson on its main components and how they work to keep you going.
Your brain is the mother ship, with all the control over every inch of your body, inside and out. It is divided into segments that have their own functions, but through its amazing ability to rewire itself when one part is not operating as it should, there is potential for it to exceed expectations even the brightest of scientists have not even imagined yet.
Our brain operates much like a computer, only is capable of more than any computer could do, and holds more information than a thousand computers. It can recall information faster than any processor, and doesnâ€™t need a schedule to know to defrag or compact files.Â
Your brain is on duty 24/7, taking in everything you see, hear, smell, touch and taste. If some connections (neurons) are not working as they should new ones are formed to reroute the communication to another connection. Millions of neurons are working throughout our bodies at all hours of the day and night, telling us to breathe, sleep, blood to flow and even that we are not feeling well.
The central parts of the brain are listed below, as well as their functions. There are hundreds of other parts that are not covered here, and still others scientists have yet to discover, but you get a good idea of how your brain works to keep us going from these descriptions.
The Cerebrum is the largest part of the brain, accounting for approximately 84% of the brainâ€™s size. It is the base for your cognitive thinking and reasoning skills, like solving math problems and doing homework, playing video games and drawing pictures. It controls your voluntary muscles that allow you to move, dance, kick a soccer ball, and play football. Your memories â€“ both long-term and short-term â€“ live in your cerebrum.
The cerebrum is divided into two parts, the right side of the brain controls the left side of your body, and the left side of your brain controls the right side of your body. Some scientists believe the right half is used for abstract thinking and skills, like music, art and putting together colors and shapes; while the left side is for more analytical thinking â€“ like math, science, logic and speech. The reality is, both sides are used at different times, and sometimes together, to accomplish different functions, so both sides of the brain are important.
The cerebellum is at the back of the brain, below the cerebrum. It’s a lot smaller than the cerebrum, but a very important part of the brain. The cerebellum controls your balance, movement, and coordination. Because of your cerebellum, you can stand upright, and your muscles coordinate for you to move around.
Your Brain Stem
Your brain stem connects your body to your brain. It is connected to the spinal chord, the long group of bones that run down your back, and sits beneath the cerebrum and in front of the cerebellum. The brain stem keeps all of your body functions going in order for you to stay alive – like breathing air, digesting food, and circulating blood.
Your brain stem controls your involuntary muscles â€” the ones that work without you even thinking about it, like your heart and stomach. It tells your heart to pump blood and your stomach to digest your dinner. It also sorts through millions of messages sent throughout your brain to different parts of your body.
The Pituitary Gland
The pituitary gland is only about the size of a pea, but it has a big job â€“ it releases hormones into your body so you can grow.Â It also is in charge of regulating your sugar and water in your body, and keeps your metabolism working to send energy throughout your body â€“ like oxygen for breathing, food for fuel and your blood to keep flowing through your veins.
The hypothalamus is your brain’s thermostat. It knows what your body temperature should be (about 98.6Â° Fahrenheit). If your body is too hot, the hypothalamus tells it to sweat, if you’re too cold, it gets you shivering.
Your Nervous System
If your brain is the control center, your nerves are the communication system. Millions of nerves (neurons) are intertwined throughout your body to signal your brain to get other parts to move, stop moving, learn, memorize, and do everything else. It looks like a bunch of branches, some larger than others, which connect to more branches. Without your nerves working together to communicate with your brain you would not be able to walk, talk, see, hear, touch and smell. Your nerves talk to each other, telling one part of your body to move one way while another goes another. For example: When you are learning to ride a bike your nerves are telling your left leg to go down while your right leg is being told to come up, and your arms are being told to steer the bike. At first you will concentrate hard on getting each of your limbs to work together, but after a while you can ride a bike without consciously thinking about it â€“ but your nerves are still working to keep thinking about it for you.
As I said before, there any hundreds of other parts of your brain that works along with these main portions to keep you moving as you should. There are still so many more parts that scientists donâ€™t understand how they work, but know there are functions for each of them. This tells you your brain is very complex. In order to keep it working the best it can you need to take care of it â€“ by eating right and exercise to give it enough fuel and oxygen; and by learning as much as you can so you make new neurons to improve your communication between your body parts.
This is Ron White,Â memory keynote speaker, and I am happy to be able to teach you a little about the overall operation of your brain.
KidsHealth.org – How your brain works – http://kidshealth.org/kid/htbw/brain.html; and http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/brain/