Decoding the Complexity of the Human Brain: Structure, Functions, and Wonders

Decoding the Complexity of the Human Brain: Structure, Functions, and Wonders

The learning and work successes and the incredible complexity of our “grey cells” are repeatedly pointed out in numerous events. Incidentally, this term refers to the ganglion cells and myelinated nerve fibres that make up the central nervous system and are not covered with a white insulating layer – hence, they appear greyish.

The brain is the control centre.

How many turns the brain has cannot be said. What happens in the brain’s convolutions still needs to be clarified in many details today. However, according to a study by the Goethe University in Frankfurt, it is inevitable that women have more brain convolutions than men. Because it is smaller than its male counterpart, its performance is increased by a larger overall surface area and more connections between the nerve cells.

But whether male or female: In any case, the human brain is the control centre that determines our lives. The brain coordinates our ability to move, feel, see, smell, form words and numbers, communicate with other people, listen to music and even compose ourselves – in short, what we are and what makes us human constitutes is regulated by our brain. As a rule, we don’t even notice everything that has to happen to be able to perceive and implement the impressions and information of our environment.

 

cerebrum and cerebellum

The brain consists of three parts:

  • the large brain (cerebrum),
  • the brainstem and
  • the cerebellum.

Two tissue masses divide The cerebrum into the left and right hemispheres. The so-called beams divide Both halves in the middle by nerve fibres. The two cerebral hemispheres are further divided into the four cerebral lobes. The frontal lobe, also called the frontal lobe, controls learned motor behaviours, including language, mood, and thinking. Body movements are coordinated, and sensory perceptions are processed in the parietal lobe.

In the occipital lobe, light and perceptual stimuli that hit the eyes are assembled into recognisable images. The temporal lobe creates memories and feelings. Long-term stored memories can be called up and processed, and conversations and actions can be triggered. Over 100 billion nerve cells throughout the body ensure that stimuli and information are sent to the brain and that the brain’s “answers” are passed on to the individual organs and carried out.

cerebrum and brainstem

The basal ganglia, thalamus, and hypothalamus are at the base of the cerebrum. The basal ganglia, a type of nerve cell, ensures that our movements are more fluid and smooth. The transmission of sensory perceptions to the cerebral cortex is coordinated in the thalamus, and automatic bodily functions such as body temperature or water balance are regulated in the hypothalamus.

The brainstem monitors other crucial bodily functions. Breathing, swallowing, heartbeat, or metabolism can only function if the brainstem is intact. A severe injury to the brainstem usually leads to death within a short time. The cerebellum lies just above the brainstem, below the cerebrum, and coordinates and fine-tunes body movements.

The entire brain is surrounded by meninges, which, together with the bony structure of the skull and the cerebrospinal fluid, are designed to protect our thinking apparatus from damage. Bearing that the outer bony shell of the skull protects the sensitive nerve cells and their neural networks, it is easy to understand that helmets protecting the skull and brain are vital for cycling, horseback riding, skiing and many other sports.

 

Diseases of the brain and nerves

The complexity of our brain’s performance is often only noticed when it fails. If you search under the keyword “diseases of the brain and nerves”, you will find, among other things:

And much more. In many cases, people can recover from brain damage. This is also possible because other regions in the brain can take over the tasks of the failed area. In some cases, only tricky progress can be achieved, even with the help of intensive rehabilitation measures.

Brain researchers worldwide are working on decoding the brain’s workings even more precisely. Brain research is still a relatively young science: only electroencephalography (EEG) made it possible to measure the electrical activity of groups of nerve cells. However, in which area of ​​the brain the activity was taking place was unknown. Modern imaging methods that measure the energy requirements of brain regions have a resolution down to the millimetre range, which can clarify the question of the location of what is happening in the brain.

The brain researchers are supported above all by the development of information technology and ultra-fast computers. Whether a high-performance computer is superior to the human brain has long since ceased to arise. Instead, the question is now asked to what extent detailed models with high-performance computers can come close to the processes of the human supercomputer.

healing and research

Countless years will pass before the workings of the brain are fully deciphered. Brain researchers hope to be able to identify the most critical neurobiological and genetic basis of diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s more quickly within the next ten years and thus ultimately be able to heal them better or at least alleviate them. They also foresee a new generation of drugs to treat mental illnesses that can act directly in some areas of the brain and, if possible, without any side effects.

Another young field of research, neuroimmunology, deals with diseases in all nervous system tissues (brain, spinal cord, nerves, muscles) that are triggered or maintained by immunological processes. Because it has been shown in recent years that processes in the immune system are also essential for the progression of degenerative diseases of the central nervous system, such as Alzheimer’s, neuroimmunological therapeutic approaches must also be pursued.

However, brain researchers are concerned with more than just brain diseases or their consequences. For example, everything related to learning also has to do with the brain. And the saying “What Hans doesn’t learn, Hans never learns” seems to have been refuted. Behind this is the assumption that the development of the brain is completed sometime in adolescence and that the neural network has reached its endpoint. The ability of the brain to learn decreases with age but by no means to the same extent as previously thought. And both Hans and Grete can still learn a lot at 50+ – the next few years will undoubtedly prove that.

 

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