The Brain, Part 1 - Podcast 7

Have you ever wondered at the complexity of the human brain? In episode #7 we will reflect on the structural and functional neuroanatomy of the human brain. That means we will look at the how and why of your brain.

Firstly, the two-kilogram weighted brain has a protective shell. The skull protects from trauma and permits the brain to expand and grow with development. 

The cerebral cortex is often referred to as the higher or new brain. The cortex is like bark with many layers of thousands of interconnecting neutrons or nerve cells. Some parts of the cortex can be as thick as six millimetres width. The typical appearance of this region is wrinkles and grooves. Termed gyrus and sulcus, are featured as the vast expanse of the neural cortex is compacted into the skull. The cerebral cortex is folded into two hemispheres or halves; left hemisphere and right hemisphere.

The typical gross function of the cerebral cortex includes voluntary movement, reasoning, perception, thought and language. Space is a premium within the skull - so the cerebral cortex hemispheres perform unique roles. The left cerebral cortex has been identified as principally involved with language, math, logic and right-sided voluntary limb movement. In contrast, visual imagery, music, spatial abilities and calculation and left-sided voluntary limb movement are characteristics of the right cerebral cortex. 

Finally, neuroanatomists broadly classify the cortex into gross regions; frontal, temporal, occipital, and parietal lobes. Generally, each anatomical zone has specific functional roles.

The frontal lobe is found to control attention, motivation, problem-solving, task initiation, emotions, motor integration and voluntary movement. Quite a lot of function!! In fact, it is no surprise that the human adult frontal lobe is very developed. Disruption to the frontal lobes is typically seen with childhood developmental delays and some dementias.

The lobe located at the back of the head is termed the Occipital lobe. Its principal role includes most perceptions and processing related to the visual world. While the Temporal lobe has complex involvement with hearing processing and memory.

Lastly, the Parietal Lobe, located in the middle of the cerebral cortex, performs perception of touch, integrates other sensory modalities, spatial awareness and goal-directed movements. Similar to the frontal lobe in size, the parietal lobe strokes can be common site leading to disruption.

The human brain has specific functional roles outlined by regions. A clear understanding of brain function is essential when applying appropriate therapy and rehabilitation.


References

(Gallahue & Ozmun, 2005; Meehan, d’Hemecourt, Collins, Taylor, & Comstock, 2012; Pare & Kahn, 2012; Rothwell, 2012)

More Reading;

Gallahue, D., & Ozmun, J. (2005). Understanding Motor Development: Infants, Children, Adolescents, Adults (6th ed.). McGraw-Hill Humanities. Retrieved from www.amazon.com/Understanding-Mot…nts/dp/0073138851 

Meehan, W. P., d’Hemecourt, P., Collins, C. L., Taylor, A. M., & Comstock, R. D. (2012). Computerized neurocognitive testing for the management of sport-related concussions. Paediatrics, 129(1), 38–44. doi.org/10.1542/peds.2011-1972

Pare, J. R., & Kahn, J. H. (2012). Basic neuroanatomy and stroke syndromes. Emergency Medicine Clinics of North America, 30(3), 601–615. doi.org/10.1016/j.emc.2012.05.004

Rothwell, J. C. (2012). Overview of the neurophysiology of movement control. Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery, 114(5), 432–435. doi.org/10.1016/j.clineuro.2011.12.053


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