Human Brain- Part & Their Functions

Human Brain- Part & Their Functions

What is Brain?

The brain is an organ of soft nervous tissue that is protected within the skull of vertebrates. The human brain controls nearly every aspect of the human body ranging from physiological functions to cognitive abilities.

The brain consists of billions of neurons (nerve cells) that communicate through intricate networks. It functions by receiving and sending signals via neurons to different parts of the body. The human brain, just like most other mammals, has the same basic structure, but it is better developed than any other mammalian brain. The three main parts of the brain are the cerebrum, cerebellum, and brainstem, but these portions contain many key sections.

Functions of brain

The brain is an incredibly complex organ responsible for a multitude of functions, both conscious and unconscious. Here are some of the key functions of the brain:

  1. Cognition: The brain processes information from the environment, allowing us to perceive, think, reason, and remember. It involves higher mental processes such as attention, memory, language, problem-solving, and decision-making.
  2. Motor Control: The brain controls voluntary movements of the body through the coordination of muscles and nerves. Motor areas of the brain, such as the motor cortex and cerebellum, play crucial roles in this function.
  3. Sensory Processing: The brain receives and interprets sensory information from the environment, including sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. Sensory areas of the brain process this information and integrate it to create our perception of the world.
  4. Emotion Regulation: The brain regulates emotions through the limbic system, which includes structures like the amygdala and hippocampus. These areas play vital roles in processing and responding to emotions, as well as in forming emotional memories.
  5. Homeostasis: The brain helps maintain the body’s internal balance, or homeostasis, by regulating functions such as temperature, blood pressure, and hormone levels. Structures like the hypothalamus are key players in this process.
  6. Autonomic Functions: The brain controls involuntary bodily functions, such as heartbeat, respiration, digestion, and reflex actions. These functions are regulated by the autonomic nervous system, which includes the sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions.
  7. Language Processing: Specialized areas of the brain, such as Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area, are involved in understanding and producing language. Language processing involves complex interactions between different regions of the brain.
  8. Executive Functions: The brain oversees higher-level cognitive functions collectively known as executive functions, including planning, organization, self-control, and problem-solving. These functions are primarily associated with the prefrontal cortex.
  9. Learning and Memory: The brain facilitates learning by encoding, storing, and retrieving information. Memory formation involves various brain regions, including the hippocampus and cerebral cortex, and occurs through processes such as synaptic plasticity.
  10. Sleep Regulation: The brain regulates the sleep-wake cycle through the circadian rhythm, which is controlled by the suprachiasmatic nucleus in the hypothalamus. Sleep is essential for cognitive function, memory consolidation, and overall health.

These functions represent just a fraction of the brain’s capabilities, and its complexity continues to be a subject of extensive research and exploration in neuroscience.


Main Parts of the Brain –

  1. Cerebrum

The three main parts of the brain are the cerebrum, cerebellum, and brainstem.

  1. Cerebrum
  • Location: The cerebellum occupies the upper part of the cranial cavity and is the largest part of the human brain.
  • Functions: It’s responsible for higher brain functions, including thought, action, emotion, and interpretation of sensory data.
  • Effects of Damage: Depending on the area affected, damage leads to memory loss, impaired cognitive skills, changes in personality, and loss of motor control.
  1. Cerebellum
  • Location: The cerebellum is at the back of the brain, below the cerebrum.
  • Functions: It coordinates voluntary movements such as posture, balance, coordination, and speech.
  • Effects of Damage: Damage causes problems with balance, movement, and muscle coordination (ataxia).
  1. Brainstem
  • Location: The brainstem is lower extension of the brain, connecting to the spinal cord. It includes the midbrain, pons, and medulla oblongata.
  • Functions: This part of the brain controls many basic life-sustaining functions, including heart rate, breathing, sleeping, and eating.
  • Effects of Damage: Damage results in life-threatening conditions like breathing difficulties, heart problems, and loss of consciousness.

Lobes of the Brain

The four lobes of the brain are regions of the cerebrum:

  1. Frontal Lobe
    • Location: This is the anterior or front part of the brain.
    • Functions: Decision making, problem solving, control of purposeful behaviors, consciousness, and emotions.
  2. Parietal Lobe
    • Location: Sits behind the frontal lobe.
    • Functions: Processes sensory information it receives from the outside world, mainly relating to spatial sense and navigation (proprioception).
  3. Temporal Lobe
    • Location: Below the lateral fissure, on both cerebral hemispheres.
    • Functions: Mainly revolves around auditory perception and is also important for the processing of both speech and vision (reading).
  4. Occipital Lobe
    • Location: At the back of the brain.
    • Functions: Main center for visual processing.


Left vs. Right Brain Hemispheres

The cerebrum has two halves, called hemispheres. Each half controls functions on the opposite side of the body. So, the left hemisphere controls muscles on the right side of the body, and vice versa. But the functions of the two hemispheres are not entirely identical:

  • Left Hemisphere: It’s dominant in language and speech and plays roles in logical thinking, analysis, and accuracy.
  • Right Hemisphere: This hemisphere is more visual and intuitive and functions in creative and imaginative tasks.

The corpus callosum is a band of nerves that connect the two hemispheres and allow communication between them.

Parts of the Brain

In addition to nervous tissues, the brain also contains key glands:

  • Cerebrum: The cerebrum is the largest part of the brain. Divided into lobes, it coordinates thought, movement, memory, senses, speech, and temperature.
  • Corpus Callosum: A broad band of nerve fibers joining the two hemispheres of the brain, facilitating interhemispheric communication.
  • Cerebellum: Coordinates movement and balance and aids in eye movement.
  • Pons: Controls voluntary actions, including swallowing, bladder function, facial expression, posture, and sleep.
  • Medulla oblongata: Regulates involuntary actions, including breathing, heart rhythm, as well as oxygen and carbon dioxide levels.
  • Limbic System: Includes the amygdala, hippocampus, and parts of the thalamus and hypothalamus.
  • Amygdala: Plays a key role in emotional responses, hormonal secretions, and memory formation.
  • Hippocampus: Plays a vital role in memory formation and spatial navigation.
  • Thalamus: Acts as the brain’s relay station, channeling sensory and motor signals to the cerebral cortex, and regulating consciousness, sleep, and alertness.
  • Basal Ganglia: A group of structures involved in processing information related to movement, emotions, and reward. Key structures include the striatum, globus pallidus, substantia nigra, and subthalamic nucleus.
  • Ventral Tegmental Area (VTA): Plays a role in the reward circuit of the brain, releasing dopamine in response to stimuli indicating a reward.
  • Optic tectum: Also known as the superior colliculus, it directs eye movements.
  • Substantia Nigra: Involved in motor control and contains a large concentration of dopamine-producing neurons.
  • Cingulate Gyrus: Plays a role in processing emotions and behavior regulation. It also helps regulate autonomic motor function.
  • Olfactory Bulb: Involved in the sense of smell and the integration of olfactory information.
  • Mammillary Bodies: Plays a role in recollective memory.
  • Function: Regulates emotions, memory, and arousal.

Glands in the Brain

The hypothalamus, pineal gland, and pituitary gland are the three endocrine glands within the brain:

  • Hypothalamus: The hypothalamus links the nervous and endocrine systems. It contains many small nuclei. In addition to participating in eating and drinking, sleeping and waking, it regulates the endocrine system via the pituitary gland. It maintains the body’s homeostasis, regulating hunger, thirst, response to pain, levels of pleasure, sexual satisfaction, anger, and aggressive behavior.
  • Pituitary Gland: Known as the “master gland,” it controls various other hormone glands in the body, such as the thyroid and adrenals, as well as regulating growth, metabolism, and reproductive processes.
  • Pineal Gland: The pineal gland produces and regulates some hormones, including melatonin, which is crucial in regulating sleep patterns and circadian rhythms.

Disease related to Brain.

There are numerous diseases and conditions that can affect the brain, ranging from relatively common to rare and complex. Some of the most notable brain-related diseases and conditions include:

Alzheimer’s Disease:

A progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by cognitive decline, memory loss, and changes in behavior. It is the most common cause of dementia.


Parkinson’s Disease:

A neurodegenerative disorder that primarily affects movement, causing tremors, stiffness, and difficulty with balance and coordination. It is caused by the loss of dopamine-producing neurons in the brain.



A sudden interruption of blood flow to the brain, leading to brain damage and neurological deficits. Strokes can be ischemic (caused by a blockage in a blood vessel) or hemorrhagic (caused by bleeding into the brain).


Multiple Sclerosis (MS):

An autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the myelin sheath surrounding nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord, leading to communication problems between the brain and the rest of the body. MS can cause a wide range of symptoms, including fatigue, weakness, numbness, and difficulty with coordination and balance.



A neurological disorder characterized by recurrent seizures, which are sudden, uncontrolled electrical disturbances in the brain. Seizures can vary widely in severity and may involve convulsions, loss of consciousness, or subtle symptoms such as staring spells or temporary confusion.


Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI):

Damage to the brain caused by an external force, such as a blow to the head or a penetrating injury. TBIs can range from mild (concussion) to severe, and symptoms may include headaches, dizziness, memory problems, and changes in mood or behavior.


Brain Tumors:

Abnormal growths of cells in the brain that can be benign or malignant. Tumors can interfere with normal brain function by putting pressure on surrounding tissues or by disrupting neurological pathways. Symptoms depend on the location and size of the tumor but may include headaches, seizures, cognitive changes, and sensory disturbances.


Huntington’s Disease:

A hereditary neurodegenerative disorder characterized by progressive movement abnormalities, cognitive decline, and psychiatric symptoms. It is caused by a genetic mutation that leads to the degeneration of nerve cells in certain areas of the brain.


Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS):

A progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, leading to muscle weakness, paralysis, and eventual loss of motor function. ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.



Inflammation of the membranes (meninges) surrounding the brain and spinal cord, usually caused by infection with bacteria, viruses, or other microorganisms. Meningitis can lead to symptoms such as headache, fever, neck stiffness, and sensitivity to light, and it can be life-threatening if not promptly treated.

These are just a few examples of the many diseases and conditions that can affect the brain. Each condition presents its own set of challenges and requires appropriate diagnosis, treatment, and management by healthcare professionals.

Gray Matter vs. White Matter

The brain and spinal cord consist of gray matter (substantia grisea) and white matter (substantia alba).

  • White Matter:Consists mainly of axons and myelin sheaths that send signals between different brain regions and between the brain and spinal cord.
  • Gray Matter:Consists of neuronal cell bodies, dendrites, and axon terminals. Gray matter processes information and directs stimuli for muscle control, sensory perception, decision making, and self-control.

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