What Is the Anatomy of the Human Brain?


Quick Answer

Several specialized areas make up the human brain, such as the cortex, brain stem, basal ganglia and cerebellum. Another way of looking at the human brain is to consider its different lobes, the frontal, parietal, temporal and occipital lobes, each dedicated to its own set of functions. The meninges and skull surround the brain, offering it protection from injury. As of 2015, InnerBody.com offers an interactive anatomy explorer with clickable images and detailed information on the areas of the brain.

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Full Answer

The cortex is the brain's outermost layer of cells and is the area of the brain where cognitive processes and voluntary movements begin. The brain stem, situated in between the main portion of the brain and the spinal cord, controls sleep and breathing. In the center of the brain, a cluster of structures called the basal ganglia coordinates signals coming from various areas of the brain. The cerebellum is at the back portion of the brain and helps with balance and coordination.

There are also several cranial nerves that perform different functions inside of the brain. Cranial nerve I, the set of olfactory nerves, is located in the nasal cavity and is associated with the sense of smell. Cranial nerve II, the optic nerve, travels from the eyes to the brain, and cranial nerve III, the oculomotor nerve, controls the movements the eye muscles. Some other cranial nerves include the glossopharyngeal nerve, several trigeminal nerves and the vagus nerve.

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