Science, Tech, Math › Science Anatomy of the Brain Share Flipboard Email Print Human Brain Showing Neuron Activity. Science Photo Library - SCIEPRO/Getty Images Science Biology Anatomy Basics Cell Biology Genetics Organisms Physiology Botany Ecology Chemistry Physics Geology Astronomy Weather & Climate Table of Contents Expand Anatomy of the Brain Brain Divisions Anatomy of the Brain: Structures Midbrain Brain Ventricles More About the Brain By Regina Bailey Biology Expert B.A., Biology, Emory University A.S., Nursing, Chattahoochee Technical College Regina Bailey is a board-certified registered nurse, science writer and educator. Her work has been featured in "Kaplan AP Biology" and "The Internet for Cellular and Molecular Biologists." our editorial process Regina Bailey Updated March 15, 2019 Anatomy of the Brain The anatomy of the brain is complex due its intricate structure and function. This amazing organ acts as a control center by receiving, interpreting, and directing sensory information throughout the body. The brain and spinal cord are the two main structures of the central nervous system. There are three major divisions of the brain. They are the forebrain, the midbrain, and the hindbrain. Key Takeaways The forebrain, the midbrain, and the hindbrain are the three main parts of the brain.The forebrain has two major parts called the diencephalon and the telencephalon. The forebrain is responsible for a number of functions related to thinking, perceiving, and evaluating sensory information.The midbrain, also called the mesencephalon, connects the hindbrain and the forebrain. It is associated with motor functions and auditory and visual responses.The hindbrain contains both the metencephalon and the myelencephalon. The hindbrain is associated with balance and equilibrium and the coordination of movement along with autonomic functions like our breathing and our heart rate.Both the midbrain and the hindbrain make up the brainstem. Brain Divisions The forebrain is the division of the brain that is responsible for a variety of functions including receiving and processing sensory information, thinking, perceiving, producing and understanding language, and controlling motor function. There are two major divisions of forebrain: the diencephalon and the telencephalon. The diencephalon contains structures such as the thalamus and hypothalamus which are responsible for such functions as motor control, relaying sensory information, and controlling autonomic functions. The telencephalon contains the largest part of the brain, the cerebrum. Most of the actual information processing in the brain takes place in the cerebral cortex. The midbrain and the hindbrain together make up the brainstem. The midbrain or mesencephalon, is the portion of the brainstem that connects the hindbrain and the forebrain. This region of the brain is involved in auditory and visual responses as well as motor function. The hindbrain extends from the spinal cord and is composed of the metencephalon and myelencephalon. The metencephalon contains structures such as the pons and cerebellum. These regions assists in maintaining balance and equilibrium, movement coordination, and the conduction of sensory information. The myelencephalon is composed of the medulla oblongata which is responsible for controlling such autonomic functions as breathing, heart rate, and digestion. Anatomy of the Brain: Structures The brain contains various structures that have a multitude of functions. Below is a list of major structures of the brain and some of their functions.Basal Ganglia Involved in cognition and voluntary movementDiseases related to damages of this area are Parkinson's and Huntington's Brainstem Relays information between the peripheral nerves and spinal cord to the upper parts of the brainConsists of the midbrain, medulla oblongata, and the pons Broca's Area Speech productionUnderstanding language Central Sulcus (Fissure of Rolando) Deep grove that separates the parietal and frontal lobes Cerebellum Controls movement coordinationMaintains balance and equilibrium Cerebral Cortex Outer portion (1.5mm to 5mm) of the cerebrumReceives and processes sensory informationDivided into cerebral cortex lobes Cerebral Cortex Lobes Frontal Lobes -involved with decision-making, problem solving, and planningOccipital Lobes-involved with vision and color recognitionParietal Lobes - receives and processes sensory informationTemporal Lobes - involved with emotional responses, memory, and speech Cerebrum Largest portion of the brainConsists of folded bulges called gyri that create deep furrows Corpus Callosum Thick band of fibers that connects the left and right brain hemispheres Cranial Nerves Twelve pairs of nerves that originate in the brain, exit the skull, and lead to the head, neck and torso Fissure of Sylvius (Lateral Sulcus) Deep grove that separates the parietal and temporal lobes Limbic System Structures Amygdala - involved in emotional responses, hormonal secretions, and memoryCingulate Gyrus - a fold in the brain involved with sensory input concerning emotions and the regulation of aggressive behaviorFornix - an arching, fibrous band of white matter axons (nerve fibers) that connect the hippocampus to the hypothalamusHippocampus - sends memories out to the appropriate part of the cerebral hemisphere for long-term storage and retrieves them when necessaryHypothalamus - directs a multitude of important functions such as body temperature, hunger, and homeostasisOlfactory Cortex - receives sensory information from the olfactory bulb and is involved in the identification of odorsThalamus - mass of gray matter cells that relay sensory signals to and from the spinal cord and the cerebrum Medulla Oblongata Lower part of the brainstem that helps to control autonomic functions Meninges Membranes that cover and protect the brain and spinal cord Olfactory Bulb Bulb-shaped end of the olfactory lobeInvolved in the sense of smell Pineal Gland Endocrine gland involved in biological rhythmsSecretes the hormone melatonin Pituitary Gland Endocrine gland involved in homeostasisRegulates other endocrine glands Pons Relays sensory information between the cerebrum and cerebellum Wernicke's Area Region of the brain where spoken language is understood Midbrain Cerebral Peduncle anterior portion of the midbrain consisting of large bundles of nerve fiber tracts that connect the forebrain to the hindbrain Reticular Formation Nerve fibers located inside the brainstem and a component of the tegmentum (midbrain)Regulates awareness and sleep Substantia Nigra Helps to control voluntary movement and regulates mood (midbrain) Tectum The dorsal region of the mesencephalon (midbrain)Assists in visual and auditory reflexes Tegmentum The ventral region of the mesencephalon (midbrain)Includes the reticular formation and the red nucleus Brain Ventricles Ventricular System - connecting system of internal brain cavities filled with cerebrospinal fluid Aqueduct of Sylvius - canal that is located between the third ventricle and the fourth ventricleChoroid Plexus - produces cerebrospinal fluidFourth Ventricle - canal that runs between the pons, medulla oblongata, and the cerebellumLateral Ventricle - largest of the ventricles and located in both brain hemispheresThird Ventricle - provides a pathway for cerebrospinal fluid to flow More About the Brain For additional information about the brain, see Divisions of the Brain. 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