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The Parts of the Brain

Cortex (Cerebrum) The cortex, or cerebrum, is made up of two hemispheres (or sides) connected by a band of tissue called the corpus callosum.  These hemispheres control speech, intelligence, and memory.  There are specific centres for specific functions; for example, the speech centre governs the ability to form sounds into meaningful words, phrases, etc.

Left Hemisphere  The Left hemisphere controls the right side of the body.  It controls speech, comprehension, arithmetic, and writing.

Right Hemisphere  The Right hemisphere controls the left side of the body.  It is responsible for more abstract skills, such as creativity, spatial ability, and artistic and musical skills.

Each cerebral hemisphere is divided into lobes. 

Frontal Lobe  The frontal lobe is located in front of the cerebrum behind the forehead.  It is the centre for judgment, reasoning, personality, motivation, and inhibition of impulses.  It also plays a role in controlling emotions, social skills, and expressive language.

Parietal Lobe  The parietal lobe sits just behind the frontal lobe. It is responsible for receiving and processing the sensations of touch (for example, pain, heat, cold, pressure, size, shape, and texture). It analyzes the combined information coming in from all five senses. It is also closely linked to writing and speech fluency.

Temporal Lobe  The temporal lobe is located alongside the frontal and parietal lobes, just above the ear.  It is the centre for the senses of hearing, taste, and smell.  It is also involved in receiving auditory information and in memory.

Occipital Lobe  The occipital lobe rests in back of the cortex behind the parietal and temporal lobes.  Damage to this area may affect sight, such as perceiving or understanding visual information.

Cerebellum   The cerebellum is located beneath the cerebral cortex in the back of the skull.  It is smaller than the cortex.  Its job is to transmit and coordinate the signals from the cortex.  It also controls the movement of voluntary muscles, balance, posture, and in coordinating movements.

Brain Stem   The brain stem is in front of the cerebellum and beneath the cerebral cortex.  It connects the spinal cord to the cortex.  Its role includes passing messages back and forth between various parts of the body and the cerebral cortex.  The brain stem coordinates the body's functions such as breathing, blood pressure and pulse.  It also contains the reticular formation which is responsible for consciousness, drowsiness, and attention.  Originating in the brain stem are 12 cranial nerves.  These nerves control smell, hearing, vision, eye movement, facial sensations, taste, and swallowing.  They also control muscle movements in the face, neck, shoulders, and tongue.

     Damage to one of these areas may affect those areas which it controls.  However, no two injuries are alike.  It is very important to note that not all areas will be affected; since a brain trauma can be localized, only very specific areas may be affected.  The above is intended only to present a brief overview of the different areas of the brain and what they control.  It is impossible to generalize which control centres are affected in a survivor of brain injury without extensive medical examinations and long-term observation.

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