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What Functions are Controlled by the Different Areas of the Brain?

By Patti Kate
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Each function of the human body is controlled by a different area of the brain, with the forebrain being the most extensive region of all. Major behavior patterns are controlled by what is known as the temporal lobe. A person's coordination is controlled by the cerebellum.

The midbrain and hindbrain are the two other major areas of the brain, which are smaller than the forebrain. Contrary to what one might be inclined to believe, the right portion of the brain commands actions to the opposite part of the body. That is, the left side of the body will function according the messages the right portion of the brain transmits. Conversely, the left portion of the brain controls the right side of the body.

The brain stem acts controls the body's essential life support. It also links to the spinal cord. The brain stem is located in a section known as midbrain. The brain stem is one area that is vital in controlling heart function, respiratory function, and blood pressure. In addition, the medulla oblongata is a region of the brain that also contributes to the control of the respiratory functions.

The area called the cerebrum houses what is referred to as the limbic system. Within this complex section is a cortex that commands equilibrium and free motion. This system also includes areas of the brain called the thalamus and hippocampus.

A person's perception of the world, as well as his judgment and rationalization are governed by the section of brain known as the hippocampus. This region allows an individual to have thoughts and ideas. Located in the temporal lobe, it is essential for comprehension, awareness, and dexterity.

In the rear section of brain and atop the cerebellum is the occipital lobe. This is an area of the brain responsible for sight and the ability to detect visual differences. The occipital lobe also provides the ability to differentiate patterns, contours, and structures.

Certain areas of the brain produce hormones. The pituitary gland, which can be found above the brain stem, is responsible for the hormonal balance that controls certain bodily functions. Metabolic balance and sexual development may be regulated by the pituitary gland.

The cerebral cortex is an essential region of the brain that controls how individuals process thoughts and learn. Long-term memory is also governed by this section of the brain. The cerebral cortex may also play an integral role in language comprehension and skills.

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Discussion Comments

By irontoenail — On Nov 06, 2014

@KoiwiGal - That makes me think of a quote which I can't quite remember, but which goes something like "if the brain was simple enough for us to understand, we would be too simple to understand it". I don't know if this is strictly true, particularly now that we've got computers to do part of the thinking for us, but I do think we should tread very cautiously when it comes to investigating human brain anatomy and attempting to manipulate it.

By KoiwiGal — On Nov 06, 2014

@Ana1234 - It's true that the brain can be very specific but we don't understand it that well and there have been plenty of cases where a human brain has changed over time to overcome injuries. The most famous case is that of a man who was discovered to have only something like 15% of his forebrain left because of fluid in his skull that had gradually been replacing it. No one even noticed that this had happened, because the remaining brain compensated. The man wasn't a genius, but he lived a perfectly normal life, with a wife and kids.

And there are procedures for young children with severe problems in one half of their brains where they will actually remove that half and allow the other half to compensate over time.

So our brains might be regimented but they are also fairly elastic, given the right conditions. I suspect as we grow to understand the brain better we will become better at creating these conditions when people suffer from brain injuries.

By Ana1234 — On Nov 05, 2014

I always find it a little bit unnerving how specific the different parts of the brain can be. If someone is injured in a particular place they might lose the power of speech but not the ability to sing, for example. The idea that speech is located in only a particular part of the brain and is entirely controlled by that part means that it's something we had to evolve to be able to do rather than something that we were just able to do when our brains became big enough.

I guess I don't like this because it makes a human seem more like a machine with different programs for different actions, rather than a being capable of limitless actions.

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