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The Brain

The brain controls the entire body. Some parts of the brain regulate basic functions. These include breathing, blood pressure, and heartbeat. Other parts control more complex functions, such as moving, thinking, speaking, and memory.

Inside the skull

Under the scalp and the skull, a tough membrane (called the dura) surrounds the brain. Beneath the dura, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) cushions the brain and circulates in the subarachnoid space. Arteries carry nutrients and oxygen-rich blood throughout the brain. Without this blood, brain tissue quickly dies. The brain consists of about 100 billion cells called neurons that allow it to perform its many functions.

Side view of head with brain inside. Frontal lobe at front of brain controls movement, intelligence, behavior, and memory. Temporal lobe on side of brain controls speech, behavior, memory, hearing, and vision. Parietal lobe at top and side controls intelligence, language, sensation, and reading. Occipital lobe at back controls vision. Cerebellum at base controls balance and coordination. Brain stem connecting to spinal cord controls breathing, blood pressure, heartbeat, swallowing, and consciousness. Arteries in neck branch out into brain. Scalp covers skull bone. Subarachnoid space is between skull bone and brain. Dura is covering on brain.
Some body functions are controlled by just one part of the brain. Other functions are controlled by more than one part.

Not pictured above is the forebrain which contains the thalamus, hypothalamus, and pituitary gland. The thalamus sends impulses from the sense organs to the cortex. The hypothalamus controls hunger, thirst, temperature,aggression, and sex drive. It also controls the pituitary gland, which controls the secretion of many hormones.

Online Medical Reviewer: Hanrahan, John, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Jasmin, Luc, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 9/14/2015
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