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The brain is the supervisory center of the nervous system consisting of grey
matter (superficial parts called cortex and deep brain nuclei) and white
matter (deep parts except the brain nuclei). It controls and coordinates
behavior, homeostasis (body functions such as heartbeat, blood pressure,
fluid balance, and body temperature) and mental functions (such as
cognition, emotion, memory and learning).
In most animals, the brain is located in the head. In vertebrates, the brain
is protected by the bones of the skull.
Although the brain is usually referred to as the supervisory center of
vertebrates, the same term can also be used for the invertebrate central
Anatomy of the brain
The vertebrate brain can be subdivided as follows:
o medulla oblongata
o pineal gland
o pituitary gland
o basal ganglia
+ caudate nucleus
+ globus pallidus
o cerebral cortex
+ frontal lobe
+ temporal lobe
+ parietal lobe
+ occipital lobe
Sometimes a gross division into three major parts is used: hindbrain
(medulla oblongata and myelencephalon), midbrain (metencephalon) and
forebrain (diencephalon and telencephalon).
The cerebrum and the cerebellum consist each of two halves (hemispheres).
The corpus callosum connects the two hemispheres of the cerebrum.
In most vertebrates the metencephalon is the highest integration center in
the brain, whereas in mammals this role has been adopted by the
telencephalon. Therefore the cerebrum is the largest section of the
mammalian brain and its surface has many deep fissures (sulci) and
convolutions (gyri), giving a wrinkled appearance to the brain.
See cephalic disorders for information on congenital development disorders
relating to the brain.
The adult human brain usually weighs about 1 - 1.5 kilograms in an average
volume of 1,600 cubic centimetres. The intelligence of the individual is not
necessarily related with the weight of the brain, but with the efficiency
and number of connections between cells.
The blood supply to the brain involves several arteries that enter the brain
and communicate in a circle called the circle of Willis. Blood is then
drained from the brain through a network of sinuses that drain into the
right and left internal jugular veins.
The function of the brain
During many past millennia, the function of the brain was unknown. Ancient
Egyptians threw the brain away prior to the process of mummification.
Ancient thinkers such as Aristotle imagined that mental activity took place
in the heart. The Alexandrian biologists Herophilus and Erasistratus were
among the first to conclude that the brain was the seat of intelligence.
Galen's theory that the brain's cavities, or ventricles, were the sites of
thought and emotion prevailed until the work of the Renassiance anatomist
The brain is now studied in neurology and psychiatry, and known to be the
organ responsible for the phenomena of consciousness, thought and emotion.
Studies of brain damage from accidents led to the identification of
specialized areas of the brain devoted to functions such as the processing
of seeing and hearing.
Brain imaging has allowed the function of the living brain to be studied
without damaging the brain. For the first time, this has allowed the study
of the neurophysiology of the brain to be studied in detail in a wide range
of psychological tests.
A new discipline of cognitive science has started to fuse the results of
these investigations with observations from psychology, philosophy and
Brain is also the name of a commune in the C™te-d'Or dˇpartement in France.
The Brain is the think-tank part of an organisation, where the ideas come
from, or where problems are solved. Or it could describe the management of
an organisation, wherever the actual ideas come from.