Human Anatomy – Brain

Everything you do, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, is controlled by the brain. You are able to think – or so much as dream – because of the brain. It is one of the largest organs in the body, storing a gargantuan amount of information in just 3 pounds of weight. In short, the brain acts as the body’s “boss.”

Protected by the cranium or skull, the brain is made up of billions of neurons or nerve cells. They transmit information among each other by way of so-called synapses.

There are four lobes to a brain. The frontal lobe controls the body’s motor functions and enables you to carry out problem-solving skills. Meanwhile, the occipital lobe serves as the visual processor of the brain. The temporal lobe takes care of memory and hearing, while the parietal lobe is responsible for, among others, sensation.

Its lobes aside, the brain may also be seen according to its specialized parts. The most important parts of the brain are the cerebrum, cerebellum, brain stem, pituitary gland, basal ganglia, and hypothalamus.

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By all accounts, the largest area of the brain is the cerebrum, essentially the thinking part of the body. It is divided into two parts, the left and right cerebral hemispheres. Experts say that the left cerebral hemisphere manages the right side of the body, while the right cerebral hemisphere controls the left. They also claim that the left half of the cerebrum allows you to reason analytically, letting you solve problems in math and logic. The right half, then, allows you to think of abstract concepts, e.g. color, shape and music.

Now the brain cannot relay or receive information to and fro the body without the spinal cord. It is an 18-inch long bunch of nerve tissues running down the back from the brain. From it, threads of nerves branch out to all the organs of the body.

Via the spinal cord, the brain can send messages to all parts of the body, all before a moment’s notice. For example, if you touch hot metal, neurons in the skin transmit a message about the heat to the brain. In the same fantastic speed, the brain replies with a message commanding the muscles to back away from the metal.


Brain diseases and conditions

Besides the common headache, the brain has proven itself very vulnerable to numerous conditions. Some are harmless, like the common headache; some life-threatening. Others carry on for life, harming your social functioning.

Nerve cells in your brain could die or degenerate for a variety of reasons. This almost always results in dementia, in which the cognitive function of the brain dwindles or becomes impaired. Alzheimer’s disease and Huntington’s disease are two of the most widespread kinds of dementia.

Sometimes, the degeneration of nerves occurs more slowly. If it occurs in the center of the brain, then Parkinson’s disease is underway. This disease is known to impair coordination and movement, in that its sufferers usually have shivering hands.

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Any bleeding in the brain, e.g. intracerebral hemorrhage, must be cause for worry. Hematoma, or bleeding between the skull and its tough tissue, can quickly kill you when untreated.

Head injuries often cause hematomas. If not a hematoma, a head injury can cause a concussion or temporary impairment in brain function. Worse yet, a head injury can inflict permanent brain damage, either irreparably impairing cognitive function or causing subtle personality changes.

Danger also lies in the arteries of the brain. One of the arteries can expand like a balloon, becoming a brain aneurysm. Once it ruptures, an aneurysm always triggers a stroke or brain infarction. In a stroke, part of the brain dies because oxygen and blood are suddenly cut off from it.

Bleedings and ruptured aneurysms are not the only risks the brain has to contend with. The brain is known to be very sensitive to bacteria, which could build areas of infection or abscesses in the brain.

A brain’s tissue itself could be dangerous. For instance, the brain tissue could swell due to a plethora of causes. Imbalance in electrolytes is one, leading to a swelling condition called cerebral edema.

Abnormal tissue growths within the brain are referred to as tumors. A brain tumor becomes a medical emergency if it already exerts pressure on the brain. This is usually the case when a tumor is malignant or cancerous, called a glioblastoma.

Brain tissue is vulnerable to inflammation or encephalitis. If the lining around the brain or spinal cord gets inflamed instead, you have meningitis.

Some people have a brain condition concerning the cerebrospinal fluid inside the skull. If this fluid accumulates in the cavities of the brain (ventricles), hydrocephalus sets in and pressure increases, deforming the head. If it does not increase pressure, hydrocephalus can cause dementia, urinary incontinence, and trouble walking.

Some people have the brain disorder called epilepsy. Epileptic patients are characterized for repeatedly experiencing seizures.

Treating brain conditions

There are a number of ways by which doctors treat high brain pressure. Craniotomy is one, which involves surgically drilling a hole into the skull. Ventriculostomy is another, which involves the installment of a drain in the ventricles. Similarly, a lumbar drain can be installed into the spinal cord to relieve pressure from it.

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Strokes are treated immediately by intravenously injecting the patient with thrombolytics or anti-clotting medicines. Drugs such as aspirin and clopidogrel are used as preventive drugs against blood clotting.

Cholinesterase inhibitors are Alzheimer’s disease medicines. Levodopa, on the other hand, is a Parkinson’s disease medicine. The latter works by heightening the levels of dopamine in the brain. Antibiotics are prescribed for brain abscesses.

Tests for brain conditions

An electroencephalogram (EEG) can monitor activity in the brain, helping diagnose epilepsy and other brain disorders. It is conducted by placing electrodes around the head.

X-ray images may also be taken of the brain to diagnose certain conditions. In the imaging test called brain angiogram or angiography, a medical examiner injects a patient with a contrast agent, which goes to the brain, letting the arteries show prominently in the X-ray images.

Medical examiners use a special magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan in tracing the brain’s arteries. It is called magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), which can easily detect clotting in the blood.

Computed tomography (CT) scans also help diagnose brain conditions. In this test, a machine takes a series of X-ray images or “slices,” which the computer merges into a cross-sectional image of the brain.

Spinal tap is a test done to confirm a potential case of meningitis. Spinal tap, also known as a lumbar puncture, involves drawing fluid for analysis from the spinal cord through a special needle.

It is a healthy lifestyle activity to take neurocognitive tests once in a while. These tests gauge if your problem-solving skills and short-term memory, among other brain functions, are still fine.

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2 Responses

  1. Your brain is just like any muscle in your body – it needs exercising to stay healthy and to grow. Wouldn’t you agree?


  2. If you do research about the structure of the brain, you will find its complicity and magic.

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