Brain Function 101

Some may not think of the brain when they think about weight loss, but as it is the epicenter of thought and control I would say it’s pretty essential and we will explore both the brain and brain health this week. The development of the brain throughout time has helped given us what we consider to be the edge in this world as we now control the planet and animals in it. What do we know about the brain? For a long time the brain was a mystery, but with modern science there is much to be known about this three-pound organ that is so essential to living and who we are. Today we’ll do a little anatomy 101 on the brain. Above of course is a lovely diagram of the brain and some of its divisions. Firstly the brain is divided into hemispheres- right and left. The right brain puts things together and deals with visual activities (‘that’s a house’). The left side analyzes the information collected by the right side and applies language to it (Oh yeah, I know whose house that is). The left hemisphere controls the movement on the right side of the body, whereas the right side controls the left side of the body. Most people (95%) are right-handed, which means that the left hemisphere is the dominant hemisphere. Furthermore there are 3 major divisions of the brain: forebrain, midbrain, and the hindbrain. The forebrain is put into two divisions the diencephalon and telencephalon.

  • diencephalon: motor control, relaying sensory information, and controlling autonomic functions
  • telencephalon: actual information processing

The midbrain connects the other two divisions and is responsible for auditory and visual responses, and motor function. The hindbrain extends from the spinal cord and is divided into the metencephalon and myelencephalon.

  • metencephalon: maintaining balance and equilibrium, movement coordination, and the conduction of sensory information
  • myelencephalon: controlling autonomic functions like breathing, heart rate, and digestion.

Here are some other structures that you may find interesting and have important responsibilities:

  • Broca’s Area: speech production and understanding language
  • Frontal lobe: decision-making, problem solving, and planning
  • Occipital lobe: vision and color recognition
  • Parietal lobe: receives and processes sensory information
  • temporal lobe: emotional responses, memory and speech. Hypothalamus: body temperature, hunger, and homeostasis

If this just brief list of structures (there are so many more) doesn’t help you realize how vast and important the brain is, I don’t know what will. We’ve looked at the benefits of fish oil for the brain and Alzheimer’s, but this week we’ll look at some other conditions and hunger control affected by the brain and how weight loss and a healthy body can be preventative.

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