Lesson Plan - Get It!
Do you have a personal computer at home? Do you have one you can carry with you wherever you go? Human beings have been carrying their computers around since birth!
Computers process information very quickly, and use various parts to analyze new data.
Your brain works in a similar way, taking information from the body and developing instructions for a response. In the previous Related Lesson in our Nervous System series, found in the right-hand sidebar, you learned that the nervous system is made up of the central and peripheral systems. The brain and spine make up the central nervous system that sends messages to the rest of the body. The brain acts as the director for the entire body!
Your brain is made up of three sections: the forebrain, midbrain, and hindbrain. Each of these sections contains multiple parts. For example, the forebrain is comprised of the cerebrum, thalamus, and hypothalamus, while the hindbrain is made up the cerebellum, pons, and medulla. Notice the location of the forebrain and hindbrain in this image:
The cerebrum, also called the cortex, is the largest part of your brain, and is responsible for thought and action. The brain contains four lobes, or sections (which make up a large part of the cerebrum): the frontal lobe, parietal lobe, occipital lobe, and temporal lobe. Observe the location of each lobe in the image below:
Each lobe is associated with different brain functions:
- The frontal lobe helps with reasoning and problem solving. It also is responsible for speech and emotions.
- The parietal lobe assists with movement and recognition.
- The occipital lobe carries out visual processing of information.
- The temporal lobe processes auditory information.
The cerebrum has a lot of wrinkles!
- Have you ever heard the saying that you "grew a new wrinkle" when you learned new information?
These wrinkles increase the surface area in the brain to make the information processing faster and more efficient. The cerebrum also is divided in half, down the middle, creating two hemispheres.
The right hemisphere is generally associated with creativity, while the left is more responsible for logic and reasoning. You have to use both sides of the brain to complete most activities, though!
The thalamus and hypothalamus are also located in the forebrain, and are responsible for sending messages to the body. The hypothalamus controls a very important gland called the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland helps control glands located throughout your body by secreting chemical messages, hormones. These chemical compounds help your entire body regulate processes and maintain balance! Check out a few of the hormones secreted from the pituitary that are distributed to different parts of the body:
(For more information on the glands, check out the Elephango lesson found under Additional Resources in the right-hand sidebar.)
The cerebellum is located in the hindbrain, and controls body functions such as coordination of movement and balance. It is also part of a special system located in the brain called the limbic system. The limbic system controls much of your emotional response to situations, including the flight-or-fight survival mechanism.
The pons and medulla, other components of the hindbrain, also contribute to an area called the brain stem. This section of the brain is responsible for life functions such as breathing, heart contractions, and regulating temperature.
- Did you know that your brain had so much complexity?
Just imagine what is happening in your brain as you consider that question! We rely on our brain stem to keep us alive, but also on our creative and problem-solving cerebrum in order to learn and contribute to society. Without our brains, we would be really limited in our ability to learn — or even survive!
Middle school students, discuss what you have learned with a parent or teacher. High school students, write a quick reflection in your notebook around the question, "Why does the brain have so much complexity?"
In the Got It? section, you will explore parts of the brain in-depth using a cool online interactive tool.