Anatomy of the Skull and brain

Dura in dorsal view

In between the skull and brain are three layers of tissue, called meninges, which protect the brain. The strong outermost layer is named the dura mater. The arachnoid mater, the middle layer, is a thin membrane made of blood vessels and elastic tissue which covers the entire brain. The pia mater is the innermost layer, with blood vessels that run deep into the brain.

Parts and Functions of the Brain

The cerebrum, or forebrain, forms the biggest part of the brain and is divided in two halves. The left hemisphere is largely responsible for language. The right hemisphere is important for interpreting visual cues and spatial processing. The cerebrum controls coordination, temperature, sight, sound, reasoning, learning, and emotions.

The space between the two hemispheres is called the great longitudinal fissure. The corpus callosum connects the two sides and transfers signals from one side of the brain to the other.

The cerebrum has billions of neurons and glia that form the cerebral cortex, its outermost layer. This is what is commonly known as gray matter. Connection fibers between neurons beneath the surface of the brain are called white matter.

The cerebellum, or hindbrain, handles fine motor movements, balance, and posture. It helps us to perform quick and repetitive movements.

The brainstem is in front of the cerebellum and is connected to the spinal cord. Its job is to pass signals between the cerebral cortex and the rest of the body. It is made up of three parts. The midbrain controls eye movements, facial sensation, balance, and hearing. Signals from the cortex to the spinal cord and nerves move through the pons, which controls sensory analysis, motor skills, sleep, and consciousness. The lowest part of the brainstem is the medulla oblongata, which controls heart and lung functions.

Ventricular System

The brain has four ventricles (cavities) connected by cavities and tubes. The two lateral ventricles in the cerebral hemispheres communicate with a third in the center of the brain. It communicates with the fourth at the base of the brain through a tube called the cerebral aqueduct.

Cerebrospinal fluid flows through the fourth ventricle and around the brain. This is a clear, watery liquid produced in the ventricles. It cushions the brain and spinal cord and is continually absorbed and replenished.

The pineal gland is an outgrowth at the back of the third ventricle. Its purpose is not fully understood, but it is thought to play a part in sexual maturation.

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