The first six years of a child’s life is the most significant period for brain development. To understand the complexity of the brain functioning during the early childhood years, it therefore becomes important to learn about the parts of the human brain and their functions.
It also becomes important to learn about the milestones of brain development along with the importance of critical periods of development.
In this article:
- The 3 Important Terms Related to Brain Science
- The 3 Major Sections of the Human Brain
- The 5 Important Parts of the Human Brain and their Functions
Before attempting to realize and provide an enriched environment for the child’s developing brain, it is rudimentary to understand the working of the human brain. Let us first look at the important vocabulary or terms related to brain science and its structure.
The 3 Important Terms Related to Brain Science
Neurons are referred as brain cells and/or the main components of the brain and spinal cord. Its function is to transmit messages to-and-fro from the brain through electrical signals across the structures called synapses.
Synapses are structures that connect one neuron head to another neuron’s tail, called axon.
Myelination is a process of covering the axons with the fatty substance called Myelin. This covering allows the signals to travel faster through the neuron.
The 3 Major Sections of the Human Brain
The most complex and the most important organ of a human body is the human brain. It is the brain which controls and maintains every sense and functions of the body. It collects information from various parts of the body, interprets it and generates an appropriate response for the major tasks of the brain.
Based on the position in the front, middle or back of the skull, the human brain is divided into three major parts, namely:
Forebrain is referred to the center of processing sensory information. It has got two sub components called Diencephalon and Telencephalon.
Diencephalon has thalamus and hypothalamus to control sensory and autonomic processes. The Telencephalon contains the major part of the brain called Cerebrum.
It is a part that mediates the hindbrain and the forebrain, by acting as a bridge in transmitting signals between them. The top of the midbrain is known as Optic Tectum that integrates the visionary and auditory data.
Hindbrain is said to be the control center for visceral functions and has three sub-parts, namely:
- Medulla oblongata
The forebrain, mid brain and hindbrain are called as the executive center, emotional center and the alarm center respectively. They grow sequentially from the least complicated part, which is the brain stem in the hindbrain, to more complex area called cortex in the forebrain. In between, the hindbrain and the forebrain is a limbic region called midbrain.
The forebrain, which is the executive center, looks into abstract thought, concrete thought, logic reasoning and affiliation.
The midbrain or which is the emotional centre, takes care of attachment, contextual memory, sexual behavior, emotional reactivity, arousal, appetite or satiety and motor regulation.
The hindbrain, which is the alarm centre, takes care of your blood pressure, temperature, sleep, heart rate and breathing.
What is Brain Lateralization?
There are two hemispheres of the brain: the right and the left hemisphere. Both the hemispheres carry out different functions. For example the left hemisphere is responsible for verbal abilities, namely the spoken and written language, while the right hemisphere is in charge of the emotional reaction in spatial abilities, like judging distances at recognizing geometric shapes, etc.
However this pattern is reversed for left-handed people. The two hemispheres therefore undergo a process of specialization to perform its function in that person (who is left handed). This process of specialization of two hemispheres is called Lateralization.
The 5 Important Parts of the Human Brain and their Functions
As discussed already, different areas of the brain handle different functions, and these areas get established for its core function at birth itself. However higher and more complex brain functions become possible as and when the brain grows and accomplishes its growth milestones.
1. The Frontal Lobe
The frontal lobe takes care of abstract thinking, problem-solving, reasoning, executive functioning, organizing, motor functions, regulates emotions, expressive language, organize thoughts on paper, remembers facts, starts and completes tasks and storytelling.
2. The Parietal Lobe
The parietal lobe takes care of the sensory information, namely taste, touch, smell and temperature.
3. Occipital Lobe
The occipital lobe takes care of the visual system and visual information, processes words on a page, knows shapes and sizes, recognizes letters and distinguishes the left from the right.
4. Temporal Lobe
The temporal lobe takes care of speech, auditory processing, hearing, behavior, emotions, short-term memory, long-term memory, fear, fight or flight response and retains facts.
Cerebellum is important for the balance, coordination, attention, rhythm and helps in vestibular functions like kicking, throwing, jumping, riding a bike, etc.
The spinal cord is said to be the pathway to send sensory information to the brain and motor information from the brain. It can also coordinate reflexes.
While the 5 important parts of the human brain and their functions may seem like separate entities carrying out independent functions, they all basically work together by communicating and coordinating with each other.
The effectiveness in the overall functioning of the brain completely depends upon the efficacy with which each of the parts carries out their functions they are meant for.
Disclaimer: The content in this page and across this website are for informational and educational purposes only. In case of any concerns about your child’s growth and development, please contact your professional child healthcare provider.