The Parts of the Brain
The subconscious brain is involved with activities that take no thought, but just are. Different parts of the brain deal with different arenas, as you will soon learn. These parts are:
The Brain Stem
The medulla oblongata is found in the brain stem and holds the pathways of communication between the spinal cord and the various sections of the brain. The medulla is used to conduct sensory information from one side of the brain to the other, which in turn influences the opposite side of the body. This part of the brain stem controls the heartbeat and the rhythm of breathing, and regulates the size of blood vessels. Minor operations of the medulla oblongata deal with the functions of swallowing, vomiting, coughing, sneezing, and the hiccups.
The pons is the bridge that connects the spinal cord to the brain and various brain parts to each other. This part of the brain stem works with the medulla to help control respiration.
The midbrain is the final piece of the brain stem. This section deals with motor and sensory nerve bundles. These nerves carry impulses from the cerebral cortex to the pons and the spinal cord. The midbrain also contains nerves that conduct energy to the thalamus.
This section of the brain contains the thalamus, the hypothalamus, and the pineal gland. It is a transmitter to the cerebral cortex, relaying sensory information from other parts of the brain and the spinal cord. The thalamus portion of the diencephalon interprets and translates sensory messages such as pain, temperature, light touch, and pressure. The pineal gland is that lentil-sized structure that produces the hormone melatonin. Melatonin promotes sleepiness as well as working with the circadian rhythms of the body.
The hypothalamus, although small in size, conducts a major amount of business. This portion of the diencephalon controls many activities related to homeostasis. Some of the functions of the hypothalamus include:
Regulation of heart rate, digestion, and flow of urine.
Reception of information from the internal organs.
Connecting the nervous system and endocrine system.
Production of hormones.
Control of the pituitary gland.
Creating a center to deal with mind over body control.
Establishing a connection between emotions and behavior.
Control of body temperature.
Regulation of food and fluid intake.
Maintenance of established sleep patterns.
The hypothalamus continuously receives information from outside and inside the body. This tiny area of the brain is a major influence in maintaining balance throughout the systems, keeping you functioning at your highest level.
Cerebrum and Cerebellum
The function of the cerebrum is to deal with the areas of sensory impulses and muscular movement as well as the areas of emotions and intellect. This center of control is divided into four sections, the lobes of the cerebrum. Each set of lobes has a specific function.
Frontal lobes control muscle contraction, learning ability, intellect, and emotion.
Parietal lobes control impulses of pain, cold, heat, touch, and pressure.
Temporal lobes control hearing, smell, and language development.
Occipital lobes control seeing and recognition of shape, color, and movement.
Did you ever wonder why certain smells trigger old memories?
The smell of gingerbread permeates the air, and thoughts of winter holidays abound. These sensory memories are stored in the cerebrum, waiting for release.
Areas of taste are also controlled by the cerebrum, as are sensory memories from the past.
The cerebellum is a motor region of the brain, dealing with the subconscious movements of the muscles. This butterfly-shaped section is the second largest area of the brain. The cerebellum deals with coordination, posture, and balance.
The limbic system is the area of the brain that surrounds the brain stem, in a wishbone shape. This system is the emotional and behavioral center, often called the “emotional brain.” Certain areas of memory are controlled from the limbic center. Because emotions are connected to the memories, those memories with powerful emotions are clearly remembered.