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largest part of the human brain, is associated with higher order functioning, including the control of voluntary behavior. Thinking, perceiving, planning, and understanding language all lie within the cerebrum’s control. The cerebrum is divided into two hemispheres — the right hemisphere and the left hemisphere. Bridging the two hemispheres is a bundle of fibers called the corpus callosum. The two hemispheres communicate with one another across the corpus callosum.


cerebral cortex

Covering the outermost layer of the cerebrum is a
sheet of tissue called the cerebral cortex. Because of its gray
color, the cerebral cortex is often referred to as gray matter.
The wrinkled appearance of the human brain also can be
attributed to characteristics of the cerebral cortex. More than
two-thirds of this layer is folded into grooves. The grooves
increase the brain’s surface area, allowing for inclusion of
many more neurons. The function of the cerebral cortex can be understood
by dividing it somewhat arbitrarily into zones, much like the
geographical arrangement of continents.


frontal lobe

responsible for initiating and
coordinating motor movements; higher cognitive skills, such
as problem solving, thinking, planning, and organizing; and
for many aspects of personality and emotional makeup.


parietal lobe

involved with sensory processes,
attention, and language. Damage to the right side of
the parietal lobe can result in difficulty navigating spaces,
even familiar ones. If the left side is injured, the ability to
understand spoken and/or written language may be impaired.


occipital lobe

helps process visual information,
including recognition of shapes and colors


temporal lobe

helps process auditory information and
integrate information from the other senses. Neuroscientists
also believe that the temporal lobe has a role to play in
short-term memory through its hippocampal formation, and in
learned emotional responses through its amygdala.


parts of the forebrain

cerebrum, amygdala, hippocampus, thalamus, hypothalamus


basal ganglia

key part of the forebrain. cerebral nuclei deep in the cerebral cortex; The cerebral nuclei help coordinate muscle
movements and reward useful behaviors



key part of the forebrain. passes
most sensory information on to the cerebral cortex after
helping to prioritize it



key part of the forebrain. control
center for appetites, defensive and reproductive behaviors, and



consists of two pairs of small hills called
colliculi. These collections of neurons play a critical role
in visual and auditory reflexes and in relaying this type of
information to the thalamus. The midbrain also has clusters
of neurons that regulate activity in widespread parts of the
central nervous system and are thought to be important for
reward mechanisms and mood.



includes the pons and the medulla
oblongata, which control respiration, heart rhythms, and
blood glucose levels.
Another part of the hindbrain is the cerebellum
which, like the cerebrum, also has two hemispheres. The
cerebellum’s two hemispheres help control movement and
cognitive processes that require precise timing, and also play
an important role in Pavlovian learning


spinal cord

the extension of the brain through the
vertebral column. It receives sensory information from all parts of the body below the head. It uses this information for reflex
responses to pain, for example, and it also relays the sensory
information to the brain and its cerebral cortex. In addition,
the spinal cord generates nerve impulses in nerves that control
the muscles and the viscera, both through reflex activities and
through voluntary commands from the cerebrum.



The forebrain,
midbrain, hindbrain, and spinal cord form the central
nervous system (CNS), which is one of two great divisions
of the nervous system as a whole. The brain is protected by
the skull, while the spinal cord, which is about 17 inches (43
cm) long, is protected by the vertebral column.



consists of nerves and small concentrations of gray matter called ganglia, a
term specifically used to describe structures in the PNS.
Overall the nervous system is a vast biological computing
device formed by a network of gray matter regions
interconnected by white matter tracts.


Somatic nerves in the __
region are related to the neck and arms; those in
the __ region serve the chest; and those in the
__ and __ regions interact with the legs.

Somatic nerves in the cervical
region are related to the neck and arms; those in
the thoracic region serve the chest; and those in the
lumbar and sacral regions interact with the legs.


autonomic nervous system

made of neurons
connecting the CNS with internal organs. It is divided
into two parts. The sympathetic nervous system mobilizes
energy and resources during times of stress and arousal,
while the parasympathetic nervous system conserves energy
and resources during relaxed states, including sleep.


neuron numbers

mammalian brain contains between 100 million and 100
billion neurons, depending on the species.


parts of neuron

Each mammalian
neuron consists of a cell body, dendrites, and an axon. The cell
body contains the nucleus and cytoplasm. The axon extends
from the cell body and often gives rise to many smaller
branches before ending at nerve terminals. Dendrites extend
from the neuron cell body and receive messages from other
neurons. Synapses are the contact points where one neuron
communicates with another. The dendrites are covered with
synapses formed by the ends of axons from other neurons.


axon length

can range in length from a tiny fraction of an inch (or centimeter)
to three feet (about one meter) or more



When neurons receive or send messages, they transmit
electrical impulses along their axons. Many axons are
covered with a layered myelin sheath, which accelerates the
transmission of electrical signals along the axon. This sheath
is made by specialized cells called glia.