The Brain

Sagittal view of head and neck highlighting different parts of the brain (cerebrum, cerebellum, and brainstem)

The brain is the most complex organ in the human body. It controls all of our behaviors, thoughts and actions.

The brain consists of:

  • cerebrum
  • cerebellum 
  • diencephalon
  • and the brainstem.

The cerebrum contains two hemispheres that work together to coordinate all of your senses and motor functions. It also allows you to think and reason. The cerebrum consists of gray and white matter. The gray matter forms the outermost part of the cerebrum and it is called the cerebral cortex. 

Beneath the cortex is the white matter of the cerebrum, mainly consisting of myelinated neuronal pathways that originate from the neurons of the cortex, and also those that come from the periphery to the cortex. Embedded deep within the white matter is a cluster of gray matter called the basal ganglia or basal nuclei. These comprise several groups of neurons involved in control and fine tuning of voluntary motor activity.

The cerebellum primarily regulates muscle coordination as well as balance and posture.

The diencephalon consists of five parts: epithalamus, thalamus, subthalamus, metathalamus and hypothalamus. They are in charge of a variety of tasks, such as maintaining hormonal balance, thermoregulation, circadian rhythm, etc.

The brainstem is responsible for regulating vital functions such as breathing and heart rate. It also connects the spinal cord with other parts of the brain. 

All four parts of the brain work together to ensure that you are able to function on a daily basis.

Improve your understanding of the anatomy and function of the brain with our interactive tutorials below, and discover expertly-crafted quizzes and video tutorials.