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The Brain: Structure and Function

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  • 0:01 Brain
  • 0:38 Cerebrum
  • 1:48 Cerebellum
  • 2:16 Brain Stem
  • 3:16 Pituitary Gland
  • 4:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Your brain is in charge of telling the rest of your body what to do. Learn about the parts of your brain including the cerebrum, the cerebellum, the brain stem and the pituitary gland and how they help you live, play and grow.

Brain

When you sing 'Happy Birthday,' how do you remember the right words? How does your body keep breathing when you're sound asleep? How do you balance on your bicycle? These jobs are all handled by the control center of your body known as your brain. Your brain is kind of like the boss that tells the rest of your body what to do. It tells your lungs when to breathe, your muscles how to move and your mouth what to sing when the birthday cake comes out. All human brains weigh the same, about three pounds, and they are made up of the same parts.

Cerebrum

If you pat your hands on top of your head, you're making a drum out of your cerebrum, which is the part of your brain that controls your ability to speak, think and move. Compared to animals, humans have pretty big cerebrums, which is why you can talk and do math problems and your dog can't.

Your cerebrum is split into two halves, giving it a right side and a left side. If you are good at music or drawing, then we'd say you're right-brained because it is thought that the right half of the cerebrum controls creativity and artistic abilities. If you are good at math or solving problems, then you would be seen as left-brained because the left side controls more of these logical types of thought. Besides thinking and speaking, your cerebrum also controls your voluntary muscle movements. If you volunteer for something, you do it because you want to. It is the same for your voluntary muscles because these are the ones that move when you want them to, like when you move your leg muscles to kick a soccer ball.

Cerebellum

Hanging down from the cerebrum like a bell is the much smaller cerebellum, which controls coordination and balance. If you are coordinated, it means you can make your muscles work together. So using your body to throw a baseball or sink a free throw requires good coordination. When you learned to ride a bike it took both coordination and balance, so you can thank your cerebellum for that skill.

Brain Stem

A part of your brain that looks like the stem of a flower is your brain stem. It controls breathing, digestion and your heartbeat. The brain stem sits below the cerebrum, which makes the cerebrum look like the flower of the brain stem. And, the cerebellum comes off the back of the brain stem almost like a leaf. Your brain stem connects your brain to the rest of your body and allows messages to pass back and forth between these different parts of you.

It helps keep you alive by controlling your involuntary muscles. These are the ones that work without you having to think about them. You have involuntary muscles that help you expand your lungs and pump your heart and there are also involuntary muscles that help move food through your digestive tract. Thanks to your brain stem you can breathe, digest food and keep your heart pumping all while you get a good night's sleep.

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