The Human Brain and Spinal Cord: Functional Neuroanatomy and Dissection Guide
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The two sides of the brain are joined at the bottom by the corpus callosum. The corpus callosum connects the two halves of the brain and delivers messages from one half of the brain to the other.
The surface of the cerebrum contains billions of neurons and glia that together form the cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex appears grayish brown in color and is called the "gray matter. The cerebral cortex has sulci small grooves , fissures larger grooves and bulges between the grooves called gyri. Scientists have specific names for the bulges and grooves on the surface of the brain. Decades of scientific research have revealed the specific functions of the various regions of the brain.
Beneath the cerebral cortex or surface of the brain, connecting fibers between neurons form a white-colored area called the "white matter. The cerebral hemispheres have several distinct fissures. By locating these landmarks on the surface of the brain, it can effectively be divided into pairs of "lobes. The cerebrum or brain can be divided into pairs of frontal, temporal, parietal and occipital lobes.
Each hemisphere has a frontal, temporal, parietal and occipital lobe. Each lobe may be divided, once again, into areas that serve very specific functions. The lobes of the brain do not function alone: they function through very complex relationships with one another. Messages within the brain are delivered in many ways. The signals are transported along routes called pathways. Any destruction of brain tissue by a tumor can disrupt the communication between different parts of the brain.
The result will be a loss of function such as speech, the ability to read or the ability to follow simple spoken commands. Messages can travel from one bulge on the brain to another gyri to gyri , from one lobe to another, from one side of the brain to the other, from one lobe of the brain to structures that are found deep in the brain, e. Research has determined that touching one side of the brain sends electrical signals to the other side of the body.
Introduction to Neuroanatomy
Touching the motor region on the right side of the brain would cause the opposite side or the left side of the body to move. Stimulating the left primary motor cortex would cause the right side of the body to move.
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The messages for movement and sensation cross to the other side of the brain and cause the opposite limb to move or feel a sensation. The right side of the brain controls the left side of the body and vice versa. So if a brain tumor occurs on the right side of the brain that controls the movement of the arm, the left arm may be weak or paralyzed. There are 12 pairs of nerves that originate from the brain itself. These nerves are responsible for very specific activities and are named and numbered as follows:. The hypothalamus is a small structure that contains nerve connections that send messages to the pituitary gland.
The hypothalamus handles information that comes from the autonomic nervous system.
It plays a role in controlling functions such as eating, sexual behavior and sleeping; and regulates body temperature, emotions, secretion of hormones and movement. The pituitary gland develops from an extension of the hypothalamus downwards and from a second component extending upward from the roof of the mouth.
The frontal lobes are the largest of the four lobes responsible for many different functions. These include motor skills such as voluntary movement, speech, intellectual and behavioral functions. The areas that produce movement in parts of the body are found in the primary motor cortex or precentral gyrus. The prefrontal cortex plays an important part in memory, intelligence, concentration, temper and personality. The premotor cortex is a region found beside the primary motor cortex.
Broca's area, important in language production, is found in the frontal lobe, usually on the left side. These lobes are located at the back of the brain and enable humans to receive and process visual information. They influence how humans process colors and shapes.
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The occipital lobe on the right interprets visual signals from the left visual space, while the left occipital lobe performs the same function for the right visual space. These lobes interpret simultaneously, signals received from other areas of the brain such as vision, hearing, motor, sensory and memory. These lobes are located on each side of the brain at about ear level, and can be divided into two parts.
One part is on the bottom ventral of each hemisphere, and the other part is on the side lateral of each hemisphere. An area on the right side is involved in visual memory and helps humans recognize objects and peoples' faces. An area on the left side is involved in verbal memory and helps humans remember and understand language. This system is involved in emotions. Included in this system are the hypothalamus, part of the thalamus, amygdala active in producing aggressive behavior and hippocampus plays a role in the ability to remember new information. This gland is an outgrowth from the posterior or back portion of the third ventricle.
In some mammals, it controls the response to darkness and light. In humans, it has some role in sexual maturation, although the exact function of the pineal gland in humans is unclear. The pituitary is a small gland attached to the base of the brain behind the nose in an area called the pituitary fossa or sella turcica. The pituitary is often called the "master gland" because it controls the secretion of hormones. The pituitary is responsible for controlling and coordinating the following:.
This is a cavity in the back part of the skull which contains the cerebellum, brainstem and cranial nerves The thalamus serves as a relay station for almost all information that comes and goes to the cortex. It plays a role in pain sensation, attention and alertness. It consists of four parts: the hypothalamus, the epythalamus, the ventral thalamus and the dorsal thalamus. The basal ganglia are clusters of nerve cells surrounding the thalamus. In general, the left hemisphere or side of the brain is responsible for language and speech.
Because of this, it has been called the "dominant" hemisphere. The right hemisphere plays a large part in interpreting visual information and spatial processing. In about one-third of individuals who are left-handed, speech function may be located on the right side of the brain. Left-handed individuals may need specialized testing to determine if their speech center is on the left or right side prior to any surgery in that area.
Many neuroscientists believe that the left hemisphere and perhaps other portions of the brain are important in language. Aphasia is simply a disturbance of language. Certain parts of the brain are responsible for specific functions in language production. There are many types of aphasias, each depending upon the brain area that is affected, and the role that area plays in language production. It is next to the region that controls the movement of facial muscles, tongue, jaw and throat. If this area is destroyed, a person will have difficulty producing the sounds of speech, because of the inability to move the tongue or facial muscles to form words.
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A person with Broca's aphasia can still read and understand spoken language, but has difficulty speaking and writing. There is a region in the left temporal lobe called Wernicke's area. Damage to this area causes Wernicke's aphasia. An individual can make speech sounds, but they are meaningless receptive aphasia because they do not make any sense.
The AANS does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products or physicians referenced in these patient fact sheets. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice.
Register with iGive. Exhibiting Online Recordings. Anatomy of the Brain The brain serves many important functions. The Nervous System. Brain Components and Functions Brainstem.