The human brain

Numerous events repeatedly highlight the learning and work successes and incredible complexity of our "gray cells." Incidentally, this term refers to ganglion cells and unmarked nerve fibers that make up the central nervous system and are not covered with a white insulating layer - therefore they appear greyish.

The brain as a control center

How many turns the brain actually has can not be said. What happens in the brain's windings is still unclear today in many details. However, according to a study by the Goethe University Frankfurt, it is certain that women have more brain turns than men. Because it is smaller than its male counterpart, its performance is increased by an overall larger surface and more interconnections of the nerve cells with each other.

But whether male or female: In any case, the human brain is the control center that determines our lives. The brain coordinates our ability to move, to feel, to see, to smell, to form words and numbers, to interact with other people, to listen to music and even to compose - in short: what we are and what we are as human beings is governed by our brain. As a rule, we do not even notice what has to happen, so that we can perceive and implement the impressions and information of our environment.

Cerebrum and cerebellum

The brain consists of three parts:

  • the cerebrum (Cerebrum),
  • the brainstem and
  • the cerebellum (Cerebellum).

The cerebrum is divided by two tissue masses into the left and right cerebral hemispheres. In the middle, both halves are divided by nerve fibers called beams. The two halves of the brain are again divided into the four brain lobes. In the frontal lobe, which is also called frontal lobe, learned motor behavior including speech, mood and thinking is controlled. In the parietal lobe, the body movements are coordinated and the sensory perceptions processed.

In the occipital lobe, light and perception stimuli that strike the eyes are put together into images that are recognizable to us. The temporal lobe creates memories and feelings. Here long-term stored memories can be retrieved and processed and conversations and actions are triggered. More than 100 billion nerve cells throughout the body provide stimuli and information to the brain, and the "answers" of the brain are transmitted to and executed by the individual organs.

Cerebrum and Brainstem

Basal ganglia, thalamus and hypothalamus are located at the base of the cerebrum. The basal ganglia, a type of nerve cell, make our movements run smoother and smoother. In the thalamus, the transmission of sensory perceptions to the cerebral cortex is coordinated, and in the hypothalamus, body functions that occur automatically, such as body temperature or water balance, are regulated.

Other crucial bodily functions are monitored by the brain stem. Breathing, swallowing, heartbeat or metabolism can only work if the brainstem is intact. A severe injury to the brain stem usually leads to death in a short time. The cerebellum lies just above the brainstem below the cerebrum and is responsible for the coordination and fine-tuning of body movements.

The entire brain is surrounded by meninges, which are supposed to protect our thinking apparatus, together with the bony structure of the skull and the brain water from damage. Keeping in mind that the skull's outer bony sleeve protects sensitive nerve cells and their neural networks, it is easy to understand why helmets are vital for protecting the skull and brain while cycling, riding, skiing and many other sports.

Diseases of the brain and nerves

How complex the performance of our brain is often only noticeable when it fails. Those who search under the heading "Diseases of the brain and nerves" will find, among other things:

  • Pain, headache
  • Muscle weakness, seizures
  • multiple sclerosis
  • disc prolapse
  • Facial paralysis, stroke
  • Meningitis
  • Disturbances of the smell and taste sense
  • Paraplegia

and much more. In many cases, people can recover from brain damage. This is also possible because other regions in the brain can take over the tasks of the failed area. In some cases, only painstaking progress can be made with the help of intensive rehabilitation.

Brain researchers worldwide are working to decipher the functioning of the brain even more accurately. In any case, brain research is still a relatively new science. Only electroencephalography (EEG) made it possible to measure the electrical activity of nerve cell groups. However, this did not tell in which area within the brain the activity took place. Modern imaging techniques that measure the energy requirements of brain regions have resolutions reaching down to the millimeter range, which can clarify the question of where the brain is located.

The brain researchers are supported in particular by the development of computer science and ultra-fast computers. The question of whether a high-performance computer is superior to the human brain has long ceased to exist. Rather, conversely, the question is now asked how far detailed models with high-performance computers can approach the processes of the human supercomputer.

Heal and research

It will take countless years for the functioning of the brain to be completely deciphered. Brain researchers hope to be able to recognize the most important neurobiological and genetic basics of diseases such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's more quickly within the next ten years and thus ultimately be better able to heal or at least alleviate it. They also foresee a new generation of drugs against mental illnesses that can act directly and without any side effects on certain brain regions.

Another young field of research, neuroimmunology, deals with diseases in all tissues of the nervous system (brain, spinal cord, nerves, muscles), which are triggered or maintained by immunological processes. Because it has been found in recent years that even in degenerative diseases of the central nervous system such as Alzheimer processes in the immune system for the progression are essential, also neuroimmunological therapeutic approaches must be followed.

Brain researchers are not only concerned with brain diseases or their consequences. Everything that has to do with learning, for example, has something to do with the brain as well. And the saying "What Hänschen does not learn, Hans never learns" seems to be refuted. Behind this is the assumption that the development of the brain is completed at some point in the youth and the neural network has then reached its end point. Although the learning ability of the brain decreases over the course of the age, but by no means in the Unfang as previously thought. And both Hans and Grete can still learn a lot with 50+ - the next few years will prove that undoubtedly.

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