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Human Brain


Human Brain for kids

 

Your brain is the main control centre of your body, in fact it is in charge of your entire body. Learn more facts about human brain for kids with this lesson.

 

Functions of the brain:

 

  • Checks all the information from the sense organs
  • Makes decisions about what to do
  • Sends signals out to get things done
  • Processes and stores huge amounts of information

Human Brain for Kids - The Brain Cartoon image

 

Your brain needs lots of energy to do all these. Therefore, it needs a good supply of oxygen. This helps you to think, have ideas, feel emotions, change moods, express desires, solve problems, and store and recall memories. These are known as higher mental processes.

 
Also, part of your automatic brain is involved in involuntary actions, such as controlling heartbeat, breathing, digestion etc., without your knowledge. These are known as lower-level processes. Your autonomic nervous system (ANS) deals with these body processes.
 

Click here to learn about the human nervous system.

 

What is the brain made of?

The human brain is an organ made of dense, greyish-pink tissue. It feels like stiff jelly and is covered with deep wrinkle-like grooves. The brain is composed of neurons, blood vessels and some supporting cells called glia. The brain has got its greyish colour from the neurons and pink colour from the blood vessels.
 

brain appearanceAppearance of Human Brain

 

An average adult human brain weighs about 1400 g and contains billions of neurons and trillions of glial cells. These help you to think, feel, remember, dream, control your body and live.

 

Make fists with both of your hands and put them together. Now you can get a rough idea of how big your brain is.

 

Did you know?

There can be about as many cells in your brain as there are stars in the galaxy or the Milky Way!

 

Protection of the brain

 

Your brain has got an amazing protection as it is the most vital part in your body.

 

How is the brain protected?

The brain is located inside the head. It is protected by the bones of the skull and a covering of three thin membranes called meninges. For extra protection the brain is surrounded and cushioned by liquid that helps to absorb shocks.
 

The SkullThe Skull

 

The structure of the brain

The brain has its main parts. At this stage we are going to learn the following major parts of the brain.

 

Parts of the brain

 

  • Cerebrum
  • Cerebellum
  • Brainstem

 

Parts of The BrainParts of The Brain

 

Cerebrum

The cerebrum is the large, wrinkled lump that curves over, and covers most of the other parts of the brain. It makes up about 85 percent of the weight of the brain. The surface of the cerebrum is folded, so that it has a large surface area. We call this area cerebral cortex.

 

The cerebrum is the ‘thinking part’ of the brain. Different areas of the cerebrum are in charge of different activities.

 

Functions of the cerebrum:

 

  • Controls your body’s voluntary actions
  • Deals with consciousness, ideas and feelings
  • Concerned with intelligence, memory and thought
  • Controls movement
  • Processes information coming from the sense receptors
  • The cerebral cortex is responsible for thinking, reasoning, speaking, voluntary movement and understanding what we think

 

Two halves of the cerebrum

 

The cerebrum is divided vertically into two halves. They are;

 

  • Left cerebral hemisphere
  • Right cerebral hemisphere

 

Two halves of the brainTwo halves of the brain

 

The cerebral hemispheres look similar. The halves are connected by bundles of nerve fibres. Each hemisphere is divided into four lobes, or regions. Both hemispheres are the control centres for different skills and abilities.

 

Functions of the left cerebral hemisphere:

 

  • Dominates the right side and controls movement of the right side of the body
  • Example:

    Hand movements and the control of speech of a right-handed person come from the left cerebral hemisphere.

     

  • Deals with;
  •  

    (a) learning and using language

    (b) numbers and math

    (c) reasoning  and logic problems

     

    Functions of the right cerebral hemisphere:

     

    • Controls movement of the left side of the body
    • Example:

      Hand movements and the control of speech of a left-handed person come from the right cerebral hemisphere.

       

    • Deals with;
    •  

      (a) general ideas and concepts

      (b) overall shape, colours and forms, recognition of things we see, such as quickly recognizing a face

      (c) art and music awareness

      (d) Intuition, and jumping to an idea or conclusion

      (e) judging distance and position (spatial awareness)
       

      functions of left and right halves of brainFunctions of the left and right halves of the brain

       

      Two halves working together

       

      The left side of the brain picks out details, while the right side sees and understands the whole idea. Both sides work together and help each other.

       

      Cerebral cortex

       

      This is the outer layer of the cerebrum. This is a large and thick surface area folded into bulges and grooves.

       

      The cerebral cortex consists of different areas that deal with different parts of the body and various parts of our thinking or mental processes.

       

      What are the different tasks handled by the different areas of the cortex?

       

      • Movement
      • Thought
      • Speech
      • Touch (Sensation)
      • Taste
      • Hearing
      • Vision (Sight)
      • Memory

       

      What are the higher functions unique to human brain?

       

      Human brain can help humans to;

       

      • think abstract thoughts
      • use language
      • crate art and craft
      • invent tools
      • develop complex ideas
      • have strong feelings, emotions and powerful imagination
      • remember things that happened a long time ago
      • see patterns and connections in the surroundings and many more like these.

       

      Cerebellum

      The other important part of the brain is the cerebellum. The cerebellum lies at the rear lowermost part of the brain, at the back of the brainstem.

       

      We can stand up straight, walk, lean, bend, and jog with almost no conscious thought, because of the cerebellum.

       

       Functions of the cerebellum:

       

      • Coordinates balance
      • Coordinates posture
      • Coordinates movement
      • Checks movements as they happen

       

      How does the cerebellum coordinate posture, balance and movement?

       

      • The control centres of the middle and base of the cerebellum control these actions by responding to information coming into the brian from the ears (along with the balance sensors), the eyes and the stretch sensors in muscles and joints.
      • These messages tell the brain about the position and movements of various body parts like head, neck and trunk.
      • The cerebellum sorts through the messages and sends out instructions to muscles, again mainly in the head, neck and trunk.
      • The muscles work in a precise way to keep the body moving smoothly in a well-balanced manner, so we do not stumble or fall.

       

      The cerebellum also checks movements as they happen, and fine-tunes them with small adjustments. If a drastic problem takes place, the cerebellum sends signals back to the cortex, in order to make us think to deal with the problem.

       

      Brainstem

      This is the stalk for the whole brain, which connects the cerebrum to the spinal cord. Medulla is one of the main parts of the brainstem.

       

      Medulla controls most of your body’s involuntary actions.

       

      Functions of the Medulla:

       

      • Controls heart rate
      • Controls breathing
      • Controls swallowing and vomiting
      • Controls sneezing and coughing
      • Regulates the width of blood vessels and controls blood pressure
      • Coordinating the way eyes focus to see clearly
      • Coordinating how the eyes move or swivel in their sockets when the head turns to watch a fast-moving object
      • Examples:

        (a) Watching how the ball moves at a game of tennis

        (b) Watching the racing cars of a car race

         

      • Passing nerve messages from the ears, about hearing to the upper parts of the brain

       

      All these are vital body processes. If the brainstem becomes inactive due to any damage, there is less or no hope for recovery. This is called ‘brainstem inactivity’ or ‘brain death’.
       

      Functions of BrainFunctions of the different parts of the Brain

       

      Memory and Emotions

       

      How do you learn and remember things?

      You create connections between cells in your brain when you learn to do something. Next time you do it, the connections are already there, so that it is easier to carry out what you are doing. This is what we call memory and how we remember things.

       

      What is memory?

      The amazing ability that your brain has got to store information and then use it when needed is called memory.

       

      Your memory plays a very important part in learning and intelligence. No matter how simple or complex the task is, you need your memory to carry it out.

       

      Short-term memory

      Your short-term memory only holds information for about a minute. You use it to compare prices when you go shopping, or to remember a name when you meet someone new.

       

      Long-term memory

       

      How good are you at remembering your name, your parents’, siblings’, friends’ and teachers’ names?

      You know all these names by heart. Also, you remember your parents’ phone numbers and some important phone numbers very well.

       

      Then what about a skill such as riding a bike???

      You do not have to learn to ride a bike everyday like you do not have to learn to walk everyday.

       

      Some names, phone numbers and many skills can be kept for many years in your long-term memory.

       

      Emotions

       

      Like your memory, your brain controls your emotions too. This is why memories of things that happened a long time ago can still make you emotional.

       

      • Happiness
      • Amusement
      • Fear
      • Worry
      • Anger
      • Depression

       

      These are kinds of emotions that we feel every day.

       

      While we all feel these emotions in our minds, our bodies show them too.

       

      • You shake with fear
      • You roll around with laughter
      • You curl up and cry with unhappiness

       

      We like to live in groups. We enjoy our loved ones company. We laugh together. We joke together. We enjoy sharing our experiences with each other. This helps us to feel closer to each other. Sharing bad experiences with others makes us feel better when we are sad.

       

      Fear and Phobias

       

      Fear is a useful emotion. It helps the body stay away from things that could harm it.

       

      What are phobias?

      Phobias are fears of things, such as spiders, cockroaches that you do not really need to be afraid of.

       

      Sleep, Dreaming and Sleepwalking

       

      Sleep sleeping-snoring-image

       

      Your brain is still very busy, although you feel that it switches off when you sleep. We need to have a good sleep after a busy day. Adequate sleep relaxes you and makes you feel better, giving you a healthy lifestyle.

       

      While you sleep, electrical activity in the brain, known as brain waves, changes. It seems that the brain uses that time to sort out information it received while you were awake.

       

      Do we grow while we sleep?

      Yes, you do grow while you sleep. There is a small gland at the base of the brain, called the pituitary gland. It releases lots of a chemical signal, called a growth hormone while you sleep. This hormone makes you grow. So it is very important to get a good night’s rest.

       

      pituitary glandPituitary Gland

       

      How much sleep do we need?

      The amount of sleep that one should need varies according to the different age groups. Newborn babies sleep on and off all day, for 16 hours or more. After gradually getting into a routine, and once children are at school they just sleep through the night. Adults need much less sleep than children. Look at the chart below.

       

      Age group

      Amount of sleep needed

      Birth to 1 year

      16 hours or more

      2 to 8 years

      10 to 13 hours

      9 to 13 years

      9 to 11 hours

      14 to 17 years

      8 to 10 hours

      17+ years

      7 to 9 hours

       

      Napping

       

      Some like to nap during the day too, whereas some prefer only to sleep at night. A short nap can help to restore energy levels and make you feel refreshed.

       

      Dreaming

       

      Do you dream while you sleep? Then you may want to know how you dream during sleep.

       

      Your brain goes in and out of a type of sleep during sleep. We call this Rapid Eye Movement or REM. At this stage, although your body stops moving, your eyes flicker and flit about. During REM sleep we do most of our dreaming.

       

      Sleepwalking

       

      Sometimes people get up and move around in sleep at night.

       

      For example;

      The person may simply sit up and look around, or do more complex things such as get dressed or even eat food.

       

      This is called sleepwalking. No one knows why sleepwalking happens.

       

      Sleepwalking is quite common, especially in young children.

       

      Hope you’ve enjoyed learning the facts about the brain with our lesson, Human Brain for Kids.