The brain is one of our most important organs, which makes sense given it takes up half of your body’s volume! It is also the most complex organ in our bodies – so much more than just a thinking machine.
By now you have probably heard about all of the different jobs that your brain does, but many people get stuck because they do not understand how deep some parts of the brain go.
In this article we will talk about the three major lobes of the brain, as well as what each lobe actually does. We will also look at some lesser-known areas of the brain such as the corpus callosum.
When talking about the depth of the brain, we often refer to both gray matter and white matter. Gray matter covers two thirds of the brain’s total weight while white matter only accounts for one third.
So really, there are twice as much white matter as there is grey matter! (This ratio seems very odd until you think about it.) Luckily, however, the thickness of these tissues varies across the brain, giving rise to the next topic…
The diversity of the human brain
Many theories exist about why we are the way we are today. Some focus on genetics, while others emphasize environmental factors. But none can fully explain who we are as individuals or as a society.
Fortunately, neuroscience has helped us identify several potential causes of individual differences in the way brains function.
Compartmentalized or divided into different sections
Another important feature of your brain is how it compartmentalizes information. You probably have experienced this before when you were trying to remember something and then someone next to you said the same thing, making it harder to recall what you were thinking.
This is called interference. When that happens, some parts of your memory get blurred out and lost. This can be because there are too many similar things going on in your mind, or they are like voices overlapping each other, getting mixed up.
With respect to memories and learning, this process can sometimes hinder your progress.
Compartments allow you to easily separate out new information, which helps preserve it. By having these separation points, you may also be able to recognize part of the knowledge you already have and apply it to another area.
Compartments are divided into lobes
There are three major lobes in your brain, and they play different roles depending on what area of activity you’re doing at any given time.
The frontal lobe is involved in thinking, reasoning, decision making, self-awareness, impulse control, planning, organizing, juggling tasks, keeping track of information, and other higher level functions. It helps us regulate emotions and motivate ourselves to do things.
The temporal lobe is connected to memories and experiences from past events and activities. You feel emotional attachment to objects and people due to connections with this part of the brain.
The occipital lobe processes visual information so that we can see, recognize shapes, colors, patterns, and images. This includes processing both external (things like cars) and internal stimuli (emotions).
These are just some examples of how each lobe contributes to our daily lives. By understanding how individual lobes work, you can better understand why someone else may have behaved a certain way or why you yourself acted as you did.
There are about 86 billion neurons in the brain
We’ve all heard stories of people who experienced incredible bursts of creativity while under the influence or taking illegal drugs, but what many don’t know is that being high can actually enhance our ability to think and learn!
Neuroscience has advanced beyond simply studying the function of individual parts of the brain to look at how different areas work together to promote thought and learning. It turns out that certain chemicals we use to get “high” play an important role in stimulating neuronal communication, which helps us focus, process information, and recall memories.
When you take drugs like marijuana, cocaine, MDMA (also known as ecstasy), and LSD, your body naturally produces one of these substances — delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC for short.
THC acts by binding to receptors located throughout the body, including in the brain. These receptors help regulate emotions, pain perception, sleep, and appetite, among other things. When there are enough active THC receptors, it creates some sort of feeling… either pleasant or unpleasant, depending on what you’re doing with the drug.
Brain cells communicate with each other via electrical and chemical signals
Scientists have been studying brains for centuries, but it was not until the 20th century that we had some significant progress. It took huge technology advances to make this happen, however.
One of these technologies is known as neuroimaging. This is when scientists use imaging equipment such as X-rays or magnetic resonance scanners to look at how your brain works. They do this by asking you to perform certain tasks while the machines scan the brain and pick up on any changes in activity.
By doing this repeatedly, we are able to get a good picture of what parts of the brain are used for different tasks. These pictures can then be compared against those from people who lived years ago to see if there are differences in how their brain functions.
There are about 170 million miles of neurons
The brain has lots of cells in many areas that work together to process information, remember things, and make decisions. These processing units are what makes up your mind and body functions. For example, you’re aware of your surroundings due to perception-related neurons working together.
There are three main types of neuron you will find in the human brain: sensory, motor, and association.
Sensory neurons respond to external stimuli by transmitting messages to other parts of the nervous system or receiving messages from past experiences. They include touch, taste, hearing, smell, and sight receptors.
Motor neurons transmit messages for voluntary muscle movements, such as moving our hands when we want to pick something up or squeezing to express strong emotions.
Association neurons connect memories with new information so you can relate them and understand concepts more easily.
Your brain is constantly changing as it learns and processes new information.
The brain is divided into different regions
Recent studies have revealed that our brains are not as limited in function as we thought! There are many theories about what areas of the brain do what, but one of the most accepted ideas is the “neural reuse theory”. This theory states that we use parts of the past experiences of other people to help us achieve our goals and fulfill needs we don’t know how to address for ourselves.
The past experience can be an action or thinking pattern that works well with similar situations, it can also be the opposite of something working before, so you find a way to avoid doing those things because they didn-t work for you.
With regard to love, this could mean thinking that your partner doesn’t show enough affection, motivation, or intimacy for you to want them to keep going to these efforts. Or maybe they never seem interested in sex, and you feel like there’s no hope.
This mental pathway has been used before for romantic relationships, and now we’re applying it to friendships.
There are several regions of the brain
Recent discoveries show that your brain is not as limited in function as we thought! The human mind seems to have a very wide range of functions, beyond just thinking and reasoning. Certain parts of the brain seem to be involved in other things such as emotions, motivation, sensory perception, and even control processes.
Many believe these areas of the brain work together to make us who we are, and contribute to our overall sense of well-being. These areas also influence how we perceive and process information around us, and what tasks we choose to focus on at any given time.
When talking about the “wiring” or structure of the brain, there are two main categories: hardwired and evolved.
Hardwired refers to structures in the brain that exist from birth and remain unchanged throughout life. Examples include having skin and muscles attached to each other, breathing using airlungs, and needing glucose for energy.
Evolved describes changes to the way neurons communicate with one another due to repeated experiences. For example, when you repeatedly read a book, your brain wires new patterns into your neural network so that you can quickly recognize letter shapes.
It has been estimated that humans spend approximately half of their day thinking about something, which means many areas of the brain are constantly active.
The brain is divided into lobes
There are three major lobs of your brain: frontal, parietal, and occipital.
The front lobe is in charge of reasoning, decision making, problem solving, speech and language production, self-awareness, motivation, and personality.
The second lobe is called the temporal lobe and it helps process emotions, memory, and experiences.
The third lobe is called the occipital lobe and it processes vision.
Most people have very little influence over their frontal or temporal lobes, but people with strong leadership skills develop relationships that reach out to both the frontal and temporal lobes.
You can exercise your frontal lobe by doing things like planning a vacation, organizing for an upcoming event, or starting a new project.
Working with others also uses the frontal lobe, as you must coordinate actions and efforts to complete a task.
Exercise stimulates the growth of new neurons in the hippocampus area of the brain, which has a positive effect on overall mood.
Regular exercise is needed to maintain cognitive function and increase brain size. You will know if you’ve hit upon something productive when you feel more motivated after exercising – this includes going out for a walk, taking the dog for a stroll, or practicing yoga.
Take some time every day to do something that requires effort to master, such as reading a chapter of a book, playing a game, or practicing a skill (such as brushing your teeth).