How is it that a spongy, wrinkly, gray blob can be the command central of your body, and control all the functions — from blinking to walking? This large piece of gray matter is your body’s secretary, taking notes of everything it experiences through your senses (taste, sight, hearing, touch and smell) and then filing it in a place where it can be retrieved easily. It doesn’t matter if you are awake or asleep, this secretary is on duty 24/7 to make sure everything is running smoothly, and to ensure when there is a problem that are back-up crews get to work overtime getting things back on course.
There are many different parts to your brain, all working together throughout the day and night. There are too many minor portions of the brain to mention here, but below are the central parts that make up your brain and keep your body working with it.
The Cerebrum is the largest part of the brain, taking in approximately 84% of the brain’s volume. It is the base for your cognitive thinking and reasoning skills, like solving math problems and doing homework, play video games and draw pictures; controls your voluntary muscles that allow you to move, dance, kick a soccer ball, and play football. Your memory — both long-term and short-term memory — lives in your cerebrum.
The cerebrum is divided into two parts, the right side of the brain controls the left side of your body, and the left side of your brain controls the right side of your body. Some scientists believe the right half is used for abstract thinking and skills, like music, art and putting together colors and shapes; while the left side is for more analytical thinking — like math, science, logic and speech.
It may sound like the cerebrum, but the cerebellum is at the back of the brain, below the cerebrum. It’s a lot smaller, but a very important part of the brain. The cerebellum controls your balance, movement, and coordination. Because of your cerebellum, you can stand upright, and your muscles coordinate for your to move around.
Your Brain Stem
Your brain stem connects your body to your brain, at the spinal chord, the long group of bones that run down your back. It sits beneath the cerebrum and in front of the cerebellum. The brain stem keeps all of your body functions going to stay alive, like breathing air, digesting food, and circulating blood.
Your brain stem controls your involuntary muscles – the ones that work without you even thinking about it, like your heart and stomach. It tells your heart to pump blood and your tummy to digest your dinner. It also sorts through millions of messages send throughout your brain to different parts of your body.
The Pituitary Gland
The pituitary gland is only about the size of a pea, but it has a big job — it releases hormones into your body so you can grow. It also is in charge of regulating your sugar and water in your body, and keeps your metabolism working to send energy throughout your body — like oxygen for breathing, food for fuel and your blood to keep flowing through your veins.
The hypothalamus is your brain’s thermostat. It knows what your body temperature should be (about 98.6 ° Fahrenheit). If your body is too hot, the hypothalamus tells it to sweat, if you’re too cold, it gets you shivering.
Your Nervous System
If your brain is the control center, your nerves are the communication system. Millions of nerves (neurons) are intertwined throughout your body to signal your brain to get other parts to move, stop moving, learn, memorize, and do everything else. It looks like a bunch of branches, some larger than others, which connect to more branches. Without your nerves working together to communicate with your brain you would not be able to walk, talk, see, hear, touch and smell. Your nerves talk to each other, telling one part of your body to move one way while another goes another. For example: When you are learning to ride a bike your nerves are telling your left leg to go down while your right leg is being told to come up, and your arms are being told to steer the bike. At first you will concentrate hard on getting each of your limbs to work together, but after a while you can ride a bike without consciously thinking about it — but your nerves are still working to keep thinking about it for you.
As I said before, there any hundreds of other parts of your brain that work along with these main portions to keep you moving as you should. There are still so many more parts that scientists don’t understand how they work, but know there are functions for each of them. This tells you your brain is very complex. In order to keep it working the best it can you need to take care of it — by eating right and exercise to give it enough fuel and oxygen; and by learning as much as you can so you make new neurons to improve your communication between your body parts.
This is Ron White, two-time USA Memory Champion , and I am happy to be able to teach you a little about the overall operation of your brain.
KidsHealth.org – How your brain works – http://kidshealth.org/kid/htbw/brain.html; and http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/brain/