Brain Stem and Spinal Cord
The specimen reveals the posterior view of the brain and spinal cord dissected in an infant.
Brain and spinal cord form the central nervous system. The cerebrum, the largest part of the brain, fills most of the upper skull. It has two halves called the left and right cerebral hemispheres. The cerebrum uses information from our senses to tell us what's going on around us and tells our body how to respond. The right hemisphere controls the muscles on the left side of the body, and the left hemisphere controls the muscles on the right side of the body. This part of the brain also controls speech and emotions as well as reading, thinking, and learning.
The cerebellum, under the cerebrum at the back of the brain, controls balance and complex actions like walking and talking. The brainstem consists of three part: mid brain, pons and medulla. The brainstem has a critical role in regulating certain involuntary actions of the body, including heartbeat and breathing.
The spinal cord is made up of bundles of nerve fibers. It runs down from the brain through the vertebral column. The brain and spinal cord are covered by the meninges and cushioned by cerebrospinal fluid. Spinal nerves connect the brain with the nerves in most parts of the body.
The cerebrum is the uppermost part of the brain. It contains two hemispheres seperated by a central fissure. The cerebrum contains the major lobes of the brain and is responsible for receiving and giving meaning to information from the sense organs, as well as controlling the body.
The cerebellum is a major structure of the hindbrain that is located near the brainstem. It is responsible for coordinating voluntary movements. It is also responsible for a number of functions including motor skills such as balance, coordination, and posture.
The brainstem is the distal part of the brain that is made up of the midbrain, pons, and medulla oblongata. Each of the three components has its own unique structure and function. Together, they help to regulate breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and several other important functions.
The spinal cord is the lower elongated part of the central nervous system. It extends as a downward continuation of the medulla oblongata in the vertebral column. It measures about 45 cm long and contains ascending and descending tracts that serve as conduits for nervous information. It is composed of outer white matter and inner grey matter. The inner grey matter encloses the central canal which contains cerebrospinal fluid. It also provides attachment to 31 pairs of spinal nerves.
The main functions of the spinal cord are:
- Execution of simple reflexes
- Transmission of impulses to and from the brain