How Your Brain Works
Lower animals, such as fish, amphibians, reptiles and birds, dont do much thinking, but instead concern themselves with the everyday business of gathering food, eating, drinking, sleeping, reproducing and defending themselves.
These are instinctual processes . Therefore, their brains are organized along the major centers that control these functions.
We humans perform these functions as well, and so have a reptilian brain built into us. That means we have the same parts of the brain found in reptiles, namely the brain stem and the cerebellum.
Ready to learn about the lower brain? Well discuss that on the next page.
Treatment For Brain Stem Damage
To treat brain stem damage, you must address the symptoms. The most effective way to do this is to trigger neuroplasticity, your brains natural healing mechanism.
Because of neuroplasticity, your brain can form new neural pathways. These pathways allow undamaged portions of the brain to take over functions controlled by damaged ones. It does this in response to repetition.
Therefore, the more you practice an action, the more you will reinforce those neural pathways. And the stronger those pathways are, the easier the activity will become.
This principle applies to every type of brain damage, even brain stem damage. There are several therapies you can take part in to engage neuroplasticity and recover function. We will discuss the most important ones in the sections below:
Want 20 pages of brain injury recovery tips in PDF form?
The Brain Has Three Main Functions
Did you know that the average adult brain is about the size of a medium cauliflower? It accounts for about 2% of total body weight, yet receives 20% of our blood supply and uses 20% of our total calorie intake.
You May Like: Fluoride Blood Brain Barrier
Read Also: Part Of The Brain That Controls Eyesight
How A Stroke Affects The Brain Stem
When a stroke occurs in the brain stem, the supply of blood becomes compromised by a clogged artery or burst artery . This is a medical emergency because brain cells begin to die from a lack of oxygen-rich blood.
A stroke can occur in any of the three major areas of the brain stem: the midbrain, pons, and medulla. Furthermore, some strokes that injure the brain stem also affect the cerebellum or other surrounding areas.
When a brain stem stroke occurs, it can cause atypical symptoms like vertigo and nausea. These are much different than the hallmark symptoms of a stroke, such as slurred speech and arm weakness. As a result, brain stem strokes can be difficult to diagnose.
As with all strokes, the event is a medical emergency that requires swift treatment to save the persons life.
After a stroke has been treated, the patient must work to overcome the secondary effects that occur. These effects vary greatly among survivors, which we will discuss next.
Ventricles And Cerebrospinal Fluid
Deep in the brain are four open areas with passageways between them. They also open into the central spinal canal and the area beneath arachnoid layer of the meninges.
The ventricles manufacture cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF, a watery fluid that circulates in and around the ventricles and the spinal cord, and between the meninges. CSF surrounds and cushions the spinal cord and brain, washes out waste and impurities, and delivers nutrients.
Also Check: Propranolol And Memory Loss
Effects Of Brain Stem Damage
Fortunately, brain stem damage is rare.
Most brain stem injuries are a result of swelling from other brain injuries. Swelling can push the brain stem against the skull and cause damage.
You can also damage the brain stem if you suffer a diffuse axonal injury that tears the brain cells in the pons or medulla.
Brain stem injuries cause serious problems and require intensive treatment. Below are some of the most common effects of brain stem damage.
What Does The Brain Stem Connect To
The cerebellum, under the cerebrum at the back of the brain, controls balance and complex actions like walking and talking. The brain stem connects the brain with the spinal cord. It controls hunger and thirst and some of the most basic body functions, such as body temperature, blood pressure, and breathing.
Similarly one may ask, what is the function of the brain stem?
The brain stem controls the flow of messages between the brain and the rest of the body, and it also controls basic body functions such as breathing, swallowing, heart rate, blood pressure, consciousness, and whether one is awake or sleepy. The brain stem consists of the midbrain, pons, and medulla oblongata.
Also Know, what are the 3 parts of the brainstem and their functions? Brainstem. The brainstem is the distal part of the brain that is made up of the midbrain, pons, and medulla oblongata. Each of the three components has its own unique structure and function. Together, they help to regulate breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and several other important functions.
Similarly, you may ask, how does the brain stem work with other systems?
. The brainstem has integrative functions being involved in cardiovascular system control, respiratory control, pain sensitivity control, alertness, awareness, and consciousness.
Where does the brain stem end?
You May Like Also
Don’t Miss: Boxers With Brain Damage Famous
Brainstem Structure And Function
The brainstem can be subdivided anatomically into the diencephalon , mesencephalon , ventral metencephalon , and myelencephalon . Functionally, the diencephalon is more similar to the telencephalon than to the rest of the brainstem, and it should be considered part of the forebrain . Therefore in this chapter brainstem is used generally to refer to the midbrain, pons, and medulla. The brainstem has several different functions, including generation and control of locomotion , motor and sensory control of the head , and maintenance of consciousness . Additionally, the brainstem is responsible for basic functions such as control of cardiac function, respiratory function, sleep, hunger, and thirst. Cranial nerves are associated with each part of the brainstem: the optic nerve with the thalamus the oculomotor and trochlear nerves with the midbrain the trigeminal nerve with the pons and the abducent , facial , vestibulocochlear , glossopharyngeal , vagus , spinal accessory , and hypoglossal nerves with the medulla.
Gastone G. Celesia, in, 2015
Ruling Out Other Conditions
Before testing for brain stem death can begin, doctors must carry out a series of checks to ensure that the symptoms aren’t being caused by other factors, such as:
- an overdose of illegal drugs, tranquillisers, poisons or other chemical agents
- an abnormally low body temperature
- severe under-activity of the thyroid gland
Once these factors have been ruled out, tests are carried out to confirm brain death. The diagnosis of brain death has to be made by two senior doctors. Neither of them can be involved with the hospital’s transplant team.
The doctors will explain the tests to you and they’ll keep you informed about your loved one’s condition at all times.
Read Also: How To Pass Level 140 On Brain Test
Can You Recover From A Brainstem Injury
A brainstem injury can have severe effects because the brainstem controls so many of your bodys most basic functions. But people do recover from some types of brainstem injuries.
Its important to get care right away if you suspect a brainstem injury. The sooner you get care, the more likely your healthcare providers can reduce the damage. You may need rehabilitation and other special care after a brainstem injury.
Where Is The Brainstem
The brainstem is composed of the multi-colored structures above, which include the midbrain, pons, and medulla.
The spinal cord enters the skull through an opening known as the foramen magnum. At about this point, the cord merges with the medulla oblongata, which is the lowest part of the brainstem. The brainstem is thus the stalk that extends from the brain to meet the spinal cord, and is clearly visible when looking at the brain from any perspective that allows the base of the brain to be seen. The brainstem is made up of 3 major structures: the medulla oblongata , the pons, and the midbrain.
Recommended Reading: Where Is Jfks Brain
Be Good To Your Brain
So what can you do for your brain? Plenty.
- Eat healthy foods. They contain vitamins and minerals that are important for the nervous system.
- Get a lot of playtime .
- Wear a helmet when you ride your bike or play other sports that require head protection.
- Don’t drink alcohol, take drugs, or use tobacco.
- Use your brain by doing challenging activities, such as puzzles, reading, playing music, making art, or anything else that gives your brain a workout!
What Happens When You Damage Your Brain Stem
When an accident causes brain stem damage, the affects can be devastating. In fact, destruction of the midbrain, pons, or medulla oblongata causes brain death, and the unfortunate victim of the injury cannot survive. And while damage to brain stem can cause death, even an injury that does not cause death, can cause significant brain stem injury symptoms. Because so many functions that are essential to survival are located in and pass through the brain stem, an injury to a persons brain stem is often the most devasting injury a person can suffer short of death.
For example, one injury a person can suffer after damage to their brain stem is locked-in syndrome, which is a condition in which a person is fully conscious, but the person cannot move or communicate, except through eye movements or blinking. Despite the devasting effects of the condition, a person suffering from locked-in syndrome can survive for decades in the vegetative state that the syndrome causes.
Brain stem injuries are often severe, even resulting in death, but a lower brain stem injury, while potentially not as serious, can also cause a variety of problems. For instance, a lower brain stem injury can cause loss of consciousness for a few seconds to a few minutes. The injury can cause a person to be dazed, confused, and disoriented. The injury can also cause severe headaches, nausea or vomiting, fatigue or drowsiness, problems with speech, difficulty sleeping, or sleeping more than usual.
Read Also: Does Lsd Kill Brain Cells
Blood Supply To The Brain
Two sets of blood vessels supply blood and oxygen to the brain: the vertebral arteries and the carotid arteries.
The external carotid arteries extend up the sides of your neck, and are where you can feel your pulse when you touch the area with your fingertips. The internal carotid arteries branch into the skull and circulate blood to the front part of the brain.
The vertebral arteries follow the spinal column into the skull, where they join together at the brainstem and form the basilar artery, which supplies blood to the rear portions of the brain.
The circle of Willis, a loop of blood vessels near the bottom of the brain that connects major arteries, circulates blood from the front of the brain to the back and helps the arterial systems communicate with one another.
Where Is The Location Of The Brain Stem
Located just above the spinal cord, the brain stem connects the spinal cord to the cerebellum part of the brain. Its connection is made up of three pairs of nerve bundles known as cerebellar peduncles.
In addition, the brain stem also serves as the connection between the cerebrum and the cerebellum, two of the four main regions of the brain.
Recommended Reading: Cerebral Hemorrhage Prognosis
What Does The Brain Stem Regulate
In addition to serving as a bridge between the brain and the spinal cord and relaying information to all other parts of the brain, the main function of the brain stem is to regulate your bodys autonomic functions like breathing and digestion.
The brain stem regulates many of these functions in your body that are essential for you to live, such as your breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and yourcentral nervous system.
You may be thinking, but I can control my breathing and heart rate if I want to by running. Yes, you can manipulate them yourself by going for a jog, but you dont actually tell your heart rate to go up or your breathing to get heavier.
That process to keep you alive is controlled by your brainstem in reaction to your running. That is precisely why its vital for sustaining life.
Understanding Brain Stem Damage: Effects Treatments And Recovery
Of the various types of brain injuries possible, brain stem damage is by far the most life-threatening. The brain stem is home to the most basic life functions, and the resulting damage can be devastating.
However, it is possible for a person with a brain stem injury to at least partially recover by using the brains natural plasticity.
Heres everything you need to know about brain stem damage, including the steps you must take to recover.
Use the following links to jump ahead to certain sections:
Recommended Reading: Can A Small Brain Bleed Heal Itself
Medical Definition Of Brain Stem
- Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Reviewed on 3/29/2021
Brain stem: The stem-like part of the base of the brain that is connected to the spinal cord. The brain stem controls the flow of messages between the brain and the rest of the body, and it also controls basic body functions such as breathing, swallowing, heart rate, blood pressure, consciousness, and whether one is awake or sleepy. The brain stem consists of the midbrain, pons, and medulla oblongata.
What Is Brainstem Death
Brainstem death means a person has no brainstem functions. It occurs when something permanently damages the brainstem or cuts off the brains blood or oxygen supply.
Because the brainstem controls essential life functions, someone who experiences brainstem death cannot regain consciousness. They need artificial life support to remain alive. This condition is sometimes also called brain death.
What Is The Brain Stem And What Does It Do
The brain stem is the oldest, most primitive part of the human brain. This tube-shaped region is about three inches long and made up entirely out of nervous tissue.
The brain stem forms a bridge between the brain and the spinal cord and plays the most vital role of all. Despite its small size, the brain stem is one of the most important parts of your brain and body.
Its responsible for many vital functions. Breathing, swallowing, and digestion only to name a few. Your whole body and the rest of your brain all rely on a healthy brain stem function.
To get an understanding of how important its role really is, consider this analogy
A flower and all its petals, small branches and leaves represent your brain, body and its vital organs. The main stem and roots represent your brain stem. If you cut the flower off of the main stem, it will start to shrivel away and die.
Thats how important it is!
In this article, we will take a closer look at the structure, function, and importance of the brain stem.
How Does The Brain Work
The brain sends and receives chemical and electrical signals throughout the body. Different signals control different processes, and your brain interprets each. Some make you feel tired, for example, while others make you feel pain.
Some messages are kept within the brain, while others are relayed through the spine and across the bodys vast network of nerves to distant extremities. To do this, the central nervous system relies on billions of neurons .
Recommended Reading: Brain Tan Deer Hide
What Does The Brain Stem Do
Ask U.S. doctors your own question and get educational, text answers â it’s anonymous and free!
Ask U.S. doctors your own question and get educational, text answers â it’s anonymous and free!
HealthTap doctors are based in the U.S., board certified, and available by text or video.
What Is The Function Of The Brain Stem
To get a well-rounded picture of all the brain stem functions, well need to learn what parts does the brain stem connect to.
Dont Settle For Mediocre
Life can be hard, but your personal growth doesnt have to be. Discover the journey to self-mastery.
The brain stem acts as a primary connection to several parts of the brain. In a way, it can be considered as a control bridge between brain parts.
It links the cerebrum and spinal cord together, as well as the cerebrum with the cerebellum. The cerebellum is positioned right above the brainstem and beneath the occipital lobes at the back.
Within the brainstem are nerve tracts that relay signals from the cerebellum to areas of the cerebral cortex. This allows you to have fine coordination and control of your motor movements.
Other important brain stem functions also include:
- Heart rate
- Information bridge between the peripheral nerves and spinal cord to the upper areas of the brain
The brain stem is not just a connection between different areas of the brain. It also acts as your bodys management control, regulating many of its autonomic functions.
Also Check: What Causes Bleeding On The Brain In The Elderly
How Is The Brain Supplied With Blood
The brain needs a steady flow of enough oxygen, glucose, and other nutrients. For that reason, it has a particularly good blood supply. Each side of the brain receives blood through three arteries:
- In the front, the anterior cerebral artery supplies the tissue behind the forehead and under the crown .
- The middle cerebral artery is important for the sides and areas that are further inside the brain. The anterior and middle cerebral artery split off from the internal carotid artery, a major blood vessel in the neck.
- The posterior cerebral artery supplies the back of the head, the lower part of the brain, and the cerebellum. It is supplied with blood from the vertebral arteries, which are also major arteries of the neck.
Before the three arteries reach their brain region, where they split into smaller branches, they are close together below the brain. In this area, they are connected to each other by smaller blood vessels forming a structure similar to a traffic circle. The arteries are connected to each other in other areas as well. The advantage of these connections is that blood supply problems in the brain can be compensated for to some extent: For example, if a branch of an artery gradually becomes narrower, blood can still flow to the part of the brain it supplies through these alternative routes .