The Role Of The Thalamus In The Emotional Brain
The thalamus is another region of the brain implicated in the limbic system; this structure is found at the heart of the forebrain and is responsible for emotion processing, such as fear, sadness, disgust, happiness, and pleasure. The thalamus plays an essential role in sensory processing; all sensory input, other than olfactory information, is processed in this region of brain, hence the nickname ‘Grand Central Station’.
Understanding How The Brain Works
For 21st century success, now more than ever, students will need a skill set far beyond the current mandated standards that are evaluated on standardized tests. The qualifications for success in today’s ever-changing world will demand the ability to think critically, communicate clearly, use continually changing technology, be culturally aware and adaptive, and possess the judgment and open-mindedness to make complex decisions based on accurate analysis of information. The most rewarding jobs of this century will be those that cannot be done by computers.
For students to be best prepared for the opportunities and challenges awaiting them, they need to develop their highest thinking skills — the brain’s executive functions. These higher-order neural networks are undergoing their most rapid development during the school years, and teachers are in the best position to promote the activation of these circuits. With the help of their teachers, students can develop the skillsets needed to solve problems that have not yet been recognized, analyze information as it becomes rapidly available in the globalized communication systems, and to skillfully and creatively take advantage of the evolving technological advances as they become available.
The Seat Of Consciousness: High Intellectual Functions Occur In The Cerebrum
The cerebrum is the largest brain structure and part of the forebrain . Its prominent outer portion, the cerebral cortex, not only processes sensory and motor information but enables consciousness, our ability to consider ourselves and the outside world. It is what most people think of when they hear the term grey matter. The cortex tissue consists mainly of neuron cell bodies, and its folds and fissures give the cerebrum its trademark rumpled surface. The cerebral cortex has a left and a right hemisphere. Each hemisphere can be divided into four lobes: the frontal lobe, temporal lobe, occipital lobe, and parietal lobe. The lobes are functional segments. They specialize in various areas of thought and memory, of planning and decision making, and of speech and sense perception.
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The Cerebellum’s Balancing Act
Next up is the cerebellum. The cerebellum is at the back of the brain, below the cerebrum. It’s a lot smaller than the cerebrum. But it’s a very important part of the brain. It controls balance, movement, and coordination .
Because of your cerebellum, you can stand upright, keep your balance, and move around. Think about a surfer riding the waves on his board. What does he need most to stay balanced? The best surfboard? The coolest wetsuit? Nope he needs his cerebellum!
What Are Thinking Skills
Memory is often the first thinking skill that comes to mind, but there are many more, for example:
- paying attention to tasks at hand
- vocabulary and language skills
Together, our thinking skills give us our identity and sense of self, and enable us to engage with the world around us.
My brain is the most important thing I own and I intend to take care of it.
Lissa, 84 | Coventry
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How The Eyes Communicate With The Brain
When we decide to look at something, a brainstem structure called the pons is called into action. It controls eye movement, constantly telling our eye muscles to move toward the correct stimulus of light .
When light enters the eye through the pupil, it strikes in the retina called rods and cones. Rod cells are responsible forperipheral vision and night vision, while cone cells react to brighter light, color and fine details.
When light hits its corresponding rod or cone, the cell activates, firing a nerve impulse through the optic nerve the middle man between the eye and the brain.
This impulse travels across countless nerve endings and eventually ends up with our pal the occipital lobe, where its processed and perceived as a visible image. This is eyesight.
Since an image isnt much help without meaning, the occipital lobe sends this visual information to the hippocampus in the temporal lobe. Here its stored as a memory.
All of this happens within the tiniest fraction of a second, allowing us to perceive the world in essentially real time.
The human brain is an incredibly complex web of neurons and synapses. And the more we understand about its mind-boggling ability to process and make sense of random collections of light, the more we can appreciate the equally complex world around us.
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S Of The Brain Can Sleep While Youre Awake
Directing our attention inwards can be very useful. It can let us focus on our inner thoughts, manipulate abstract concepts, retrieve memories, or discover creative solutions. But the ideal balance between focusing on the outer and inner worlds is hard to strike, and our ability to stay focused on a given task is surprisingly limited.
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When we get tired, our control of attention goes awry. At the same time, our brains starts showing local activity that resembles sleep while most of the brain appears clearly awake. This phenomenon, known as local sleep, was first seen in sleep-deprived animals and then in humans.
We wanted to investigate whether local sleep might also happen in well-rested people, and whether it could trigger shifts in attention.
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The Cerebrum And Cerebral Cortex
The cerebrum is the largest portion of the brain. It is covered in a thick layer of gray tissue called the cerebral cortex. Interior to the gray matter of the cerebral cortex is the white matter portion of the cerebrum. The white color comes from the layer of insulation called myelin that is on the neurons in this part of the brain.
The cerebrum is divided into two hemispheres that are joined by a band of nerves which allow communication between the two halves. The left hemisphere controls the right side of the body and the right hemisphere controls the left side of the body.
Functions Of The Cortex
When the German physicists Gustav Fritsch and Eduard Hitzig ;applied mild electric stimulation to different parts of a dogs cortex, they discovered that they could make different parts of the dogs body move. Furthermore, they discovered an important and unexpected principle of brain activity. They found that stimulating the right side of the brain produced movement in the left side of the dogs body, and vice versa. This finding follows from a general principle about how the brain is structured, called contralateral control, meaning the brain is wired such that in most cases the left hemisphere receives sensations from and controls the right side of the body, and vice versa.
Just as the motor cortex sends out messages to the specific parts of the body, the somatosensory cortex, an area just behind and parallel to the motor cortex at the back of the frontal lobe, receives information from the skins sensory receptors and the movements of different body parts. Again, the more sensitive the body region, the more area is dedicated to it in the sensory cortex. Our sensitive lips, for example, occupy a large area in the sensory cortex, as do our fingers and genitals.
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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!
Some Key Neurotransmitters At Work
Neurotransmitters are chemicals that brain cells use to talk to each other. Some neurotransmitters make cells more active while others block or dampen a cell’s activity .
Acetylcholine is an;excitatory neurotransmitter;because it generally makes cells more excitable. It governs muscle contractions and causes glands to secrete hormones. Alzheimers disease, which initially affects memory formation, is associated with a shortage of acetylcholine.
Glutamate is a major excitatory neurotransmitter. Too much glutamate can kill or damage neurons and has been linked to disorders including Parkinson’s disease, stroke, seizures, and increased sensitivity to pain.
GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that helps control muscle activity and is an important part of the visual system. Drugs that increase GABA levels in the brain are used to treat epileptic seizures and tremors in patients with Huntingtons disease.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that constricts blood vessels and brings on sleep. It is also involved in temperature regulation. Low levels of serotonin may cause sleep problems and depression, while too much serotonin can lead to seizures.
Dopamine is an inhibitory neurotransmitter involved in mood and the control of complex movements. The loss of dopamine activity in some portions of the brain leads to the muscular rigidity of Parkinsons disease. Many medications used to treat behavioral disorders work by modifying the action of dopamine in the brain.
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Brain Hemispheres: Logical And Creative
Verbal for the left hemisphere and emotional, visual or spatial for the right hemisphere. According to the left or right brain dominance theory of the brain, each side of the brain controls various types of thinking. Furthermore, people are said to prefer one type of thinking over the other.
For example, a person who is left brain is often said to be more logical, analytical, and objective, while a person who is right-brain is said to be more intuitive, thoughtful, and subjective.
The left hemisphere is the analytical part. It is the side of the brain that deals with words and numbers, looking for order and explanation for everything. When people have a highly dominant left brain, they have trouble with uncertainty and ambiguity, they like logic and what is 100% correct.
The left hemisphere of the brain is often described as being better at languages, logic, critical thinking, numbers, and reasoning. The left brain is the rational, intellectual one; it is the hemisphere that specializes in processing verbal and numerical information in a deductive or logical way.
This means that the left hemisphere dissects information through analysis and disaggregates the parts of the whole to process the information sequentially in a linear and orderly way.
Human Brain Structure And Functions:
Based on their placement in the front, middle or back areas of skull, the human brain can be divided into three major parts, namely, forebrain, midbrain and hindbrain. These broad divisions are comprised of different smaller divisions, with each having a specific role to play. It oft happens that different parts share responsibility for the completion of the same task. In this way, the overall job of the brain is done in a beautiful manner. In case of a disorder or malfunctioning of any of the structures, the diagnosis is usually a very complex and demanding task. So, you should take special care of this organ. A knowledge of the structure and function of various brain divisions will help you in this regard.
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Psychology In Everyday Life: Why Are Some People Left
Across cultures and ethnic groups, about 90% of people are mainly right-handed, whereas only 10% are primarily left-handed .;This fact is puzzling, in part because the number of left-handers is so low, and in part because other animals, including our closest primate relatives, do not show any type of handedness. The existence of right-handers and left-handers provides an interesting example of the relationship among evolution, biology, and social factors and how the same phenomenon can be understood at different levels of analysis .
At least some handedness is determined by genetics. Ultrasound scans show that nine out of 10 fetuses suck the thumb of their right hand, suggesting that the preference is determined before birth ,;and the mechanism of transmission has been linked to a gene on the X chromosome .;It has also been observed that left-handed people are likely to have fewer children, and this may be in part because the mothers of left-handers are more prone to miscarriages and other prenatal problems .
But culture also plays a role. In the past, left-handed children were forced to write with their right hands in many countries, and this practice continues, particularly in collectivistic cultures, such as;India and Japan, where left-handedness is viewed negatively as compared with individualistic societies, such as;Canada and the United States. For example, India has about half as many left-handers as the United States .
Conflict Of Interest Statement
The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.
Warren, D. E., Kurczek, J., and Duff, M. C. 2016. What relates newspaper, definite, and clothing? An article describing deficits in convergent problem solving and creativity following hippocampal damage. Hippocampus 26:83540. doi:10.1002/hipo.22591
Fink, A., Grabner, R. H., Benedek, M., Reishofer, G., Hauswirth, V., Fally, M., et al. 2009. The creative brain: investigation of brain activity during creative problem solving by means of EEG and fMRI. Hum. Brain Mapp. 30:73448. doi:10.1002/hbm.20538
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The Cerebral Cortex Creates Consciousness And Thinking
All animals have adapted to their environments by developing abilities that help them survive. Some animals have hard shells, others run extremely fast, and some have acute hearing. Human beings do not have any of these particular characteristics, but we do have one big advantage over other animals we are very, very smart.
You might think that we should be able to determine the intelligence of an animal by looking at the ratio of the animals brain weight to the weight of its entire body. But this does not really work. The elephants brain is one-thousandth of its weight, but the whales brain is only one ten-thousandth of its body weight. On the other hand, although the human brain is one-sixtieth of its body weight, the mouses brain represents one-fortieth of its body weight. Despite these comparisons, elephants do not seem 10 times smarter than whales, and humans definitely seem smarter than mice.
How Downstairs Brain And The Upstairs Brain
Lets have another look at the emotional, downstairs brain and the rational, upstairs brain. The downstairs brain is the part of our brain that makes us act without thinking. It has to do this quickly for survival purposes if you are in a life threatening situation you dont have time to sit down and draw up a plan of action, you just need to act! Developmentally, this part of the brain is well developed at birth and forms more connections earlier than the upstairs brain because it is responsible for essential tasks such as making sure our needs are met, feeling strong emotions, using instinct to keep us safe, and managing bodily functions.
The upstairs, rational brain whilst structurally all there is much slower in its development of connections. This part of the brain is highly sophisticated and responsible for problem solving, rational thinking, logic, planning and decision making, organisation, and self-control. All of these things are learnt through repeated experiences. Keeping to the house analogy, the upstairs, rational brain is under major construction for the first few years of life. During adolescence, the upstairs brain gets a remodelling which takes several more years. So the upstairs brain is not fully mature until the mid-twenties!!!!
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The Brain Is Flexible: Neuroplasticity
The control of some specific bodily functions, such as movement, vision, and hearing, is performed in specified areas of the cortex, and if these areas are damaged, the individual will likely lose the ability to perform the corresponding function. For instance, if an infant suffers damage to facial recognition areas in the temporal lobe, it is likely that he or she will never be able to recognize faces .;On the other hand, the brain is not divided up in an entirely rigid way. The brains neurons have a remarkable capacity to reorganize and extend themselves to carry out particular functions in response to the needs of the organism and to repair damage. As a result, the brain constantly creates new neural communication routes and rewires existing ones. Neuroplasticity;refers to the brains ability to change its structure and function in response to experience or damage. Neuroplasticity enables us to learn and remember new things and adjust to new experiences.
Although neurons cannot repair or regenerate themselves as skin or blood vessels can, new evidence suggests that the brain can engage in neurogenesis, the forming of new neurons .;These new neurons originate deep in the brain and may then migrate to other brain areas, where they form new connections with other neurons .;This leaves open the possibility that someday scientists might be able to rebuild damaged brains by creating drugs that help grow neurons.