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Parts of the Brain

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  • 0:50 Oldest brain parts
  • 2:54 Limbic System
  • 4:52 Cerebral Cortex
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Polly Peterson
Is there a way to easily remember the many parts of the brain? Don't be afraid of all these complex terms; this lesson outlines some easy and fun phrases to help you memorize the brain's anatomy. Let's take a look.

Your psychology friends are going to help you remember the parts of the brain!

Let's start with the oldest parts of the brain, which are responsible for basic functions, like breathing and walking. Here's a phrase that can help you remember the four oldest parts of the brain:

Bandura Totally Roughhoused Clowns

This is especially useful if you are familiar with Albert Bandura's experiment, in which children hit a Bobo clown doll with toy hammers after learning aggressive behavior from watching adults do the same thing.

But, the first letter in each of these words will also help you remember the first letters in the four oldest parts of the brain, which are:

Brainstem, Thalamus, Reticular formation and Cerebellum

Got it? Great. But they're just fancy words unless we know what they do.

Let's explore these parts of the brain from the bottom up.

Your brainstem is the 'stem' of your brain. It's located at the top of your spinal cord, where it enters your skull. It controls how fast your heart beats and how quickly you breathe. B stands for Bandura and brainstem. Bandura's brainstem allows him to breathe.

Your thalamus sits on your brainstem. It receives information from your senses and forwards them on to other parts of your brain. T stands for totally and thalamus. Your thalamus totally tells your brain about touch and taste.

Your reticular formation is made up of nerve cells that run from your spinal cord through your brainstem and thalamus. Your reticular formation is at work when you eat, sleep and become aroused. Its job is to filter stimuli and pass on important signals. R stands for roughhoused and reticular formation. Your reticular formation is responsible for relaying reactions when you roughhouse.

The four oldest parts of the brain
Oldest Brain Parts

Your cerebellum is behind your brainstem. It helps you walk and remember. C stands for clowns and cerebellum. The cerebellum controls a clown's coordination.

Bandura Totally Roughhoused Clowns

can help you remember

Brainstem, Thalamus, Reticular formation and Cerebellum

One more time: Brainstem, Thalamus, Reticular formation, Cerebellum

Got it?

Now, let's move on to the core of the brain and see how your psychology friends can help you remember the four parts of the limbic system.

The limbic system is the part of your brain that controls motivations and emotions. You can use the phrase,

Hungry Hounds Ate Pavlov

to help you remember the four parts of the limbic system:

Hypothalamus, Hippocampus, Amygdala, Pituitary

In a famous experiment about behavior conditioning, Ivan Pavlov trained dogs to drool when they heard a bell ring instead of when they saw food. You can imagine how hungry these dogs might have gotten, to the point of taking matters into their own paws.

Your hypothalamus helps regulate hunger, so it makes sense that hungry stands for hypothalamus. The hypothalamus also influences your sex drive, thirst and body temperature.

Your hippocampus processes long-term memory. Use your hippocampus to create an association between hounds and hippocampus. This is how we store information for use later on the test.

Your amygdala is responsible for your feelings of fear and anger. Hungry hounds acted on their aggression and ate Pavlov when they found out that he was conditioning them with a bell.

Your pituitary gland is a master gland that helps regulate the release of hormones. In our imaginary scenario, Pavlov may have overlooked the influence of the pituitary glands in the dogs' reaction to the stressful experiments. Poor Pavlov! Hungry Hounds Ate Pavlov!

The parts of the limbic system
Limbic System Diagram

This phrase can help you remember the four parts of the limbic system that are responsible for motivations and emotions:

Hypothalamus, Hippocampus, Amygdala, Pituitary

One more time: Hypothalamus, Hippocampus, Amygdala, Pituitary

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