The brain controls and coordinates movements, feelings, thoughts, breathing and bodily functions. The brain is made up of billions of nerve cells which transmit messages using a combination of electrical and chemical activity. Its soft, jelly-like mass is cushioned inside the skull by cerebrospinal fluid. This fluid circulates around the brain and through a series of cavities in the brain called ventricles.
The brain is divided into a number of parts, which work together. The more these parts are coordinated and in tune with each other, the better the overall functioning of the brain.
The cerebral cortex is the largest part of the brain, and is divided into two hemispheres, the left and right. Each hemisphere is also classified into four “lobes” – each with a different set of functions.
Left and right hemispheres
The left hemisphere is mainly concerned with speech and language (talking, comprehension, reading and writing). The right hemisphere is mainly concerned with visual perception and interpretation of nonverbal information, including drawing and spatial analysis. Each hemisphere is divided into four lobes.
The frontal lobe is involved in problem-solving, planning, making judgments, abstract thinking and regulating how people act upon their motions and impulses.
The area towards the back of the frontal lobe, called the motor strip, controls movement. In the left hemisphere the motor strip controls movement of the right side of the body while in the right hemisphere the motor strip controls movement of the left side of the body.
The temporal lobe is involved in receiving and processing auditory information like music and speech, language comprehension, visual perception, memory and learning, organisation and categorisation of information.
The temporal lobe also contains areas which control personality, emotions and sexual behaviour.
The parietal lobe monitors sensation and body position, as well as allowing us to understand time, recognise objects and judge the position of objects around us.
The occipital lobe receives, integrates and interprets visual information about colour, size, shape and distance.
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