The Function and How It Operates
Like the heart, the brain is one of the core components of the human body alongside the spinal cord and it controls the nervous system. The brain is encased and protected by the skull and a small network of nerves stem out from the brain through the spinal cord and the other organs of the body to send information to them to function. It is an organ made up of billions of nerve cells or neurons connected by axons and dendrites or biological wires to other neurons such as muscle cells or glands. Since the brain can also control every cell of the body, it can be affected by the hormones and chemicals produced by these cells. The brain is also quite delicate as a slight injury or damage to it may cause particular diseases and complications to develop which are still incurable and studied.
Fuller and Manford (2000) listed down the functions of the brain which corresponds to the different sections or parts of the organ and what it exactly controls. The first section can be classified as the hemispheres which control both the left and the right side of the brain. The cerebral hemispheres contain the control panel for higher functions of the body. The dominant hemisphere, which is the left side of the brain for right handed people, controls basic speech and other bodily functions. The other hemisphere controls more of the mental and spatial aspect of the brain. The second section can be identified as the brain’s lobes. The frontal lobe controls the motor functions of the opposite side of the body. It also controls insight and emotions and since it has a part of the dominant hemisphere, it also controls speech. The temporal lobe functions as the control for memory and emotions. It also controls speech comprehension. The parietal lobe controls the sensory system of the other side of the body and space appreciation especially in the non-dominant hemisphere. The last lobe is known as the occipital lobe which controls vision.
The other parts of the brain are also important for the function of the body. The basal ganglia or basal nuclei works hand in hand with the cerebellum as they are interconnected nuclei systems in the brain. The basal ganglia also cover parts such as the putamen, caudate globus palladium and substantia nigra that are interrelated when it comes to their functions. The basal ganglia control motor and sensory input integrations in the body. Should the basal ganglia get damaged in some way, they may produce clinical syndromes like Parkinson’s disease. The cerebellum on the other hand, controls movement and controls posture and balance. Its hemisphere controls coordination on the same side of the body. The cerebellum also helps in sitting and standing balance. The last important part of the brain is the brain stems which transmits the information throughout the body. Brain stems are very delicate as they are directly connected to the brain .
Now that the parts of the brain and its specific functions are determined, the next question now rests in its operation in guiding the body to do a particular function. Most writers agree that the brain is like a computer which can transmit and generate information with a particular system. But unlike a computer that has a program to allow it to function, the brain does not need to have software to run and perform. Pastorino and Doyle-Portillo (2008) discussed how the brain receives, transmute, encode, store and transmit information. The brain communicates with itself and the rest of the body through special networks called neurons. Neurons use a specialized system to create signals that corresponds to a particular action or sensation felt by the body. An adult human brain contains an average of 100 billion neurons that have another type of cell called glia cells which help in supporting function for these neurons . McDowell (2010) explained that the brain sends out impulses through the neurons and transmit the proper reaction the person should show in that particular instance. Neurons are also capable of transmitting information in seconds or faster to send signals to the brain. To help in transmitting the signals and impulses in the body, nerve fibers, depending on their thickness, creates a small system to properly relay the information through the spinal cord and brain. These nerve fibers are called primary afferent axons. Axons have four types, A-alpha, A-beta, A-delta and C. These four are different in terms of how thick they are and what type of information they send to the brain. The thickest one is the a-alpha which sends information corresponding to muscles which is a big part of the body. Next in the group is a-beta which usually transmits information about touch. A-delta sends impulses related to pain and temperature changes. C, the thinnest axon, sends information regarding pain, temperature and itch. The brain is then supported by the spinal cord in terms of transmitting the information properly throughout the body. If one is damaged, the other one will not be able to function .
The brain one of the most important parts of the body and it must be taken care of at all costs. It plays a key role in life as it controls every part of the body and it allows a person to grasp and understand information around him. Should one part of the brain malfunction, the consequences may be severe as the brain takes a long time to recover and the problem may not be familiar to modern science as of today. Brain treatments and surgeries are quite expensive, but there is still no guarantee that it would help the brain recover 100% Scientists and doctors are still studying the potential of the brain as there are still mysteries in terms of its functions and how it operates completely. Learning about its functions and how it operates helps people understand how certain things work and how to take good care of the organ that helps them think and learn.
Fuller, G., & Manford, M. (2000). Neurology: an illustrated colour text. Philadelphia: Elsevier Health Sciences.
McDowell, J. (2010). Encyclopedia of Human Body Systems. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.
Pastorino, E., & Doyle-Portillo, S. (2008). What is Psychology? Essentials. Belmont: Cengage Learning.