Updated: Jun 22, 2021
The brain is defined by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke as "the most complex part of the human body. This three-pound organ is the seat of intelligence, interpreter of the senses, initiator of body movement, and controller of behaviour. Lying in its bony shell and washed by protective fluid, the brain is the source of all the qualities that define our humanity."
It takes two
There are two hemispheres of brain:
The right side which controls the left side of the body and deals with creativity and the arts,
And the left side which controls the right side of the body and deals with logic.
Other functions associated with each side of the brain include:
left side - daily activities, language & grammar, memory, analytic & detail, science, strategy, facts and words of songs.
right side - deals with feelings, concentration, photo memory, visualisation, imagination, decision making, multitasking, intuition, arts & rhythm and active listening skills.
Having two hemispheres enables us to co-ordinate and juggle a variety of tasks or functions at the same time.
Form and function
The brain has three main parts - the cerebrum, the cerebellum and the brain stem.
The cerebrum is made up of five lobes: frontal, parietal, temporal, occipital and insult.
The cerebellum has 3 functional areas:
the cerebrocerebellum - thinking, communication and movement,
the spinocerebellum - receives somatosensory input from the spinal cord, and
the vestibulocrebellum - controls balance, ocular reflexes, mainly fixation on a target and information from the vestibular system.
The brain stem is made up of 5 parts:
Medulla oblongata (breath & heart);
Pons (Breathing, eye control);
Midbrain (eye control, relax);
Thalamus (eyes, ears, skin) and
Hypothalamus (pituitary gland).
Growth and development
The brain processes information via neurons, electrical and chemical signals, and most features can be seen after just 7 weeks of pregnancy.
In fact, according to "first things first" 90% of brain growth happens before 5 years old. It is the everyday experiences, interactions with their environment, parents and care givers that influences brain development and whilst the brain can always learn it is harder to form later in life. The higher-level abilities such as motivation, self-regulation, problem solving and communication are great skills and abilities to be developed in early childhood.
5 Ways to improve your brain health
Creativity & Play are great ways to develop the brain as they stimulate and develop the connections between nerve cells. These two activities support the development of cognitive skills and when we are enjoying ourselves, having fun and being creative learning is easier.
Sleep is very important as it gives the brain an opportunity to sort out and categorise all the events of the day; and at night it also clears out toxins, a time to tidy and refresh things ready for the next days activities.
Food is important and particularly omega 3 fatty acids as they are one of the building blocks of nutrition for the brain supporting function and memory, they also counter the effects of Alzheimer's and depression.
Learning provides an opportunity to continue to develop and train memory, problem solving, decision making, reading and neuroplasticity. The brain is like a muscle, using it and training it enables us to remain sharp, focused and functioning effectively.
Balanced blood sugar levels is important as whilst glucose is the energy required for brain function, too much glucose can also impact on thinking, memory and damages the small blood vessels and white matter. The impact of low blood sugar levels and its symptoms of fogginess, mood changes, light headedness are experience more quickly that that of high blood sugars.