Cerebrospinal Fluid in the Brain: Functions & Production

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  • 0:05 Holes in Your Brain
  • 0:39 The Ventricles
  • 1:21 The Choroid Plexus and CSF
  • 4:20 The Blood-CSF Barrier
  • 6:03 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

In this lesson, you'll learn that you have holes in your brain and that it's actually a good thing! You'll also find out how your brain uses a water cushion for protection and where this water cushion is made.

Holes in Your Brain

Most of you have heard of sports athletes (or perhaps someone you know) suffering a concussion; it's essentially an injury to the brain from a physical impact. However, there is a structure located in the holes of your brain, which actually helps to minimize the severity of a concussion. That's right; holes in your brain actually protect you from a concussion. We'll find out how all of this occurs as we explore the:

  • Ventricles
  • Choroid Plexus
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid
  • Blood-CSF Barrier

The Ventricles

If we were to slice your brain in half, you'd notice these large indentations or cavities within it. A cavity in the brain is called a ventricle. If you were wondering, yes, the cavities in your heart are also called ventricles. But we'll focus on the brain in this lesson.

Your brain has a grand total of four ventricles. The first and second ventricles are also known as the right and left ventricles as there is one on each side of your brain. The third and fourth ventricles are not paired, and they are located along the midline of your brain, or smack in the middle of it as opposed to any particular side.

The Choroid Plexus and CSF

A structure in the ventricles of the brain called the choroid plexus produces cerebrospinal fluid
ventricles and choroid plexus

Your ventricles by themselves are kind of boring. They're basically just holes in your brain. What's more important is what's inside of these holes. If we were to actually look inside of your brain without having to pull it out of your head, the ventricles would be filled with a fluid that is produced by a structure in the ventricles called the choroid plexus. Once again, the choroid plexus is located in the ventricles of your brain and produces a substance called cerebrospinal fluid. Cerebrospinal fluid is a clear liquid made by the choroid plexus, which serves to protect the brain. Cerebrospinal fluid is more commonly known by its abbreviation: CSF; C for Cerebro, S for Spinal, F for Fluid. CSF.

The CSF plays two very important roles in protecting your brain. First, it bathes your brain and spinal cord in a protective substance that helps to cushion any physical blows to the head. Now, the CSF isn't strong enough to stop any brain trauma. Think of it as a water pillow. If you were to place a water pillow up against a brick wall and hit it ever so slightly, the water pillow would deform to accommodate the force of your fist. In this case, because the water pillow could withstand a light hit to it, your fist wouldn't impact the brick wall behind the pillow.

But, hit the pillow hard enough and your fist will go all the way through to the other side and impact the brick wall, causing you severe pain. The same idea goes for your brain (the fist), the skull (akin to the wall) and the CSF (which is the water pillow in our example). If you impact your head with a large enough force, then your brain will hit your skull with a massive thud, giving you what we refer to more commonly as a concussion.

Cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF, acts as a cushion to protect the brain
CSF protection

The CSF has another critical role to play besides acting as a cushion. It's also a buffer. A buffer, if you recall, is something that maintains the equilibrium of a system; in our case, the chemical composition of cerebrospinal fluid and the brain suspended within it. If some detrimental chemical were to leak into your brain, the CSF would be able to minimize the disturbance caused by these chemicals.

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