While doctors and researchers have mapped the various parts of the brain, they still cannot explain exactly how the entire brain works. No one knows where “memory” resides in the brain.
The medical community understands which portion of the brain controls which facets of the body, but doctors are essentially stumped in regards to where intelligence, consciousness, and creativity reside.
That is why a person who suffers a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can experience dramatic changes to their emotional and rational well-being, but physicians cannot yet correct it in any specific way. Numerous clinical trials are constantly underway to attempt to understand what happens in brain injury and what may help reverse the damage.
Insight into how the brain works has been gleaned from studying the effects of people with brain injuries – that is, what physiological functions have been affected by injury to what parts of the brain.
How Does the Brain Work?
Each region of the brain has a unique purpose. Let’s explore the main sections of the human brain and what we know about each area:
The two frontal lobes comprise the largest area of the brain. These lobes are involved in planning and organizing, problem-solving, and attention. They also control behavior, emotions, and impulses.
Damage to the frontal lobes can cause drastic changes to the way a person acts. They may lose control over impulses, language, and behavior.
Located directly behind the frontal lobes, the parietal lobes integrate sensory information from the various parts of the body. They contain the primary sensory cortex, which controls sensations like hot, cold, and pain.
The parietal region also tells us which way is up and down, and helps keep us from bumping into things when we walk. Any damage to this area can cause a person to have difficulty locating, recognizing, and using parts of their own body.
These are located under the parietal lobes and behind the frontal lobes – basically, around where the ears are. They help us recognize and process sound, understand and produce speech, and recognize faces.
The temporal lobes, when damaged, can therefore cause a person to lose the ability to hear and recognize speech, and they may have trouble recognizing people.
These are located at the lower rear of the skull. They assist in receiving and processing visual clues and information as well as determining shapes and colors.
Damage to the occipital lobes results in distortion of sizes, colors, and shapes, and the inability to correctly process visual information received from the eyes.
The cerebellum is located at the rear, underside of the brain, and it is responsible for balance and muscle coordination. It keeps us upright and moving around.
Injury to this portion of the brain results in a loss of coordination, muscle tone, and memory. Someone with an injury to the cerebellum will likely experience an unsteady gait.
Located directly underneath the cerebellum, the brain stem contains the midbrain, the pons, and the medulla. It is responsible for regulating involuntary systems such as breathing, swallowing, digestion, heart rate, and blood pressure.
It plays a role in alertness and sensation. If a person has damage to the brain stem, it affects many of the body’s autonomic and basic functions such as heart rate, breathing, and even swallowing.
The hypothalamus is located beneath the thalamus and above the brain stem. It is responsible for regulating many hormones, body temperature, hunger, thirst, and emotions.
Damage to the hypothalamus has a negative impact on a person’s sex drive, emotions, sleep, and the desire to eat or drink.
Found at the base of the brain, the pituitary gland is responsible for a person’s overall feeling of well-being. It releases hormones necessary for regulating many autonomic body processes.
Damage to this region affects growth, blood pressure, the ability to feel pain, internal body temperature, and blood pressure.
The amygdala is located near the hippocampus in the frontal portion of the temporal lobes. It gives us the fight-or-flight response, facilitates long-term memory, and converts and retains pleasure responses. It is also critical to the formation of storage of memories related to emotion, such as the death of a loved one.
Located in the medial temporal lobe, the cells that make up the hippocampus are responsible for the creation and retention of new memories as well as spatial determination. This is the part of the brain that facilitates navigation and detects direction.
Damage to this portion of the brain affects the ability to form new memories, affects a person’s moods, and creates a sense of confusion and disorientation.
Brain Surgeons in Colorado
Brain injuries can reverse themselves, given enough time and proper treatment – the brain learns to rewire itself. Seeing a skilled neurosurgeon will deliver the best results and help you get on the road to recovery after a TBI.
Contact us today at Front Range Spine and Neurosurgery by calling (303) 790-1800 or schedule your appointment online today. We look forward to helping you get back to feeling like your old self again.