What is the central nervous system (CNS)?
The central nervous system (CNS) consists of the brain and spinal cord. The brain is a vital organ that controls every process that regulates our body, including thought, memory, emotion, touch, motor skills, vision, respirations, temperature, and hunger.
What are the different parts of the brain?
The three main parts of the brain are the cerebrum, brainstem and cerebellum.
- Cerebrum - The cerebrum (supratentorial or front of brain) is composed of the right and left hemispheres. Cerebrum functions include: initiation of movement, coordination of movement, temperature, touch, vision, hearing, judgment, reasoning, problem solving, emotions, and learning.
- Brainstem - The brainstem (midline or middle of brain) includes the midbrain, the pons, and the medulla. Brainstem functions include movement of the eyes and mouth, relaying sensory messages (hot, pain, loud, etc.), hunger, respirations, consciousness, cardiac function, body temperature, involuntary muscle movements, sneezing, coughing, vomiting, and swallowing.
- Cerebellum- The cerebellum (infratentorial or back of brain) is located at the back of the head. Cerebellum functions include coordinating voluntary muscle movements and to maintain posture, balance, and equilibrium.
More specifically, the brain can be further categorized into the following:
- Pons - A deep part of the brain located in the brainstem. The pons contains many of the control areas for eye and face movements.
- Medulla- The lowest part of the brainstem and the most vital part of the entire brain. The medulla contains important control centers for the heart and lungs.
- Spinal cord- A large bundle of nerve fibers located in the back that extends from the base of the brain to the lower back. The spinal cord carries messages to and from the brain and the rest of the body.
- Frontal lobe- The largest section of the brain located in the front of the head. The frontal lobe is involved in personality characteristics and movement.
- Parietal lobe- Considered the middle part of the brain. The parietal lobe helps a person to identify objects and understand spatial relationships (where one's body is compared to objects around the person). The parietal lobe is also involved in interpreting pain and touch in the body.
- Occipital lobe- The back part of the brain. The occipital lobe is involved with vision.
- Temporal lobe- Located on the sides of the brain. Temporal lobes are involved in memory, speech, and sense of smell.