THE BRAIN

 

The brain is literally our control centre.  There are billions of nerve cells and even more connections between those nerves.  Intriguingly our thoughts about brain development have been quite wrong until recently. 

Children lay down these billions of neural connections as they are developing in early times.  The brain then effectively removes many of the connections by a process that is unclear and this in effect leads to the vast array of talents and personalities which in turn leads to our uniqueness.  If the brain did not perform in this way, then it is highly likely that there would be large numbers of us who in effect developed similarly as opposed to the rich array of different human characteristics that are so obvious within even our own social groupings, let alone on a world-wide basis.

There are numerous websites and neuro-anatomy texts that will describe neuro-anatomy in great detail.  In simple terms, the brain is divided into the different lobes.  These are the frontal, temporal, parietal and occipital lobes.  There is a connection between the two sides of the brain called the corpus callosum and this structure enables each hemisphere of the cerebral cortex in effect to know what the other is doing.

The front part of the brain or frontal cortex on both sides is responsible for movement and sensory awareness with the motor and sensory cortices.  The left side of the brain controls the right side of the body and vice versa.

The frontal lobes are also the fundamental reason why we as humans are different from the rest of the animal kingdom.  We have huge developments of our frontal lobes and this gives us insight as to our situation and is also responsible for what those in legal practice hear repeatedly with regard to brain injury, namely executive functioning.

Once again there is a large literature about frontal lobe disorders which would be best referred to. Executive functioning however includes such abilities as planning, organisation, multi-tasking, prioritising and empathy with other human beings including sympathy and inhibited behaviour.  When the frontal lobes are damaged, everyone of these characteristics can be destroyed or lessened and there is also a wide range of other problems that can occur.

The temporal lobes are largely responsible for speech, language, writing, reading and numerical skills.

The parietal lobes have a fundamental role in what are known as cortical sensory appreciations.  This includes object recognition, the ability to identify substances placed in our hands and also a number of other cortical sensory modalities.  The non-dominant parietal lobe is responsible for visuo-spatial awareness.

The occipital lobes primarily handle vision and visual responses that travel along the visual pathways from our eyes.  A long discussion about how vision is organised is not necessary at this juncture but it is worth pointing out that the organisation of the visual pathways is not obvious and reference would need to be made to the instructed Neurologist or appropriate text books if vision is damaged.

The brain structures also include the mid-brain and the hind-brain.  There are also two hemispheres known as the cerebellum at the back of the brain.  Each of these different parts of the brain have specific functions such as the basal ganglia which are responsible for control of movement and when they go wrong, can lead to diseases like Parkinson’s disease.  Likewise when the cerebellum gets damaged or diseased, then there will be a profound problem with the co-ordination of movement.