Being the master organ of your body, the brain is assigned a multitude of vital functions that are regulated and accomplished quite efficiently. The human brain functions range from the sensation of a mild feeling of touch to the complex phenomenon of sublime thoughts and critical decision-making capabilities. All sorts of such complex tasks fall under the domain of this central part of the Central Nervous System. It is enclosed in the hard body shell, called the skull or cranium, beautifully placed at the top of your body.
To list all the human brain functions and responsibilities of different parts of brain, you need to compose a whole book. However, for the basic understanding of the subject, some of the major human brain functions are being described below. The higher functions of the brain are associated with its higher and more developed region called cerebral cortex that contains four lobes, each assigned a particular task. The overall activities are accomplished with the division of labor, that is, different parts perform different functions. At the same time, there are various diseases of brain that affect its normal functioning.
Human Brain Functions
Reasoning A Definitive Characteristic of Human Nature
Thinking or reasoning is performed by the frontal lobe of the cerebral cortex, and this is what distinguishes you as the most advanced and superior creature on the planet earth. Cognition or intellect is that capacity of human beings which enables them to challenge social or religious beliefs and verify facts. It is one of the amazing brain facts that the development of knowledge in various fields, such as science, art, philosophy, mathematics and language is solely owed to the marvelous potential of your reasoning.
One of the important human brain functions is that of the production and coordination of miscellaneous body movements. The movements can be of two types, viz. voluntary and involuntary. They occur in various parts of your body, for example, arms, legs, and neck muscles are controlled by conscious actions, while beating of heart and breathing are the involuntary ones. The conscious activities are directed by cerebrum and originate from the motor areas of the frontal lobe and the primary motor cortex. Just imagine, if there were no movement in your body, there would be no life or soul in it!
Problem Solving and Emotions
Humans, among all the advanced creatures on earth, have profound capability of understanding, evaluating, and offering a comprehensive and applicable solution to the critical issues of life. You also know that man is called the 'emotional beast' because of the variety of emotional attitudes in response to various real life situations. Both of these assignments fall under the domain of Frontal Lobe of the cerebral cortex. However, these problem solving characteristics are also found in some lower animals that simply follow the genetic programs already present in their brain, but are unable to reason (think over) and plan the tasks.
Memory and Learning
The hippocampus is located in the temporal lobe of telencephalon and is considered as one of the major components of human brain that plays an important role in the process of learning and memory processing. Once you receive any kind of information through your sensory organs, it is processed in the brain and temporarily stored in the short term memory. The function of the medial temporal lobe is to consolidate the information from short term memory to the long-term memory and carry out the spatial navigation.
Communication and Language
Broca's and Wernicke's Areas are primarily associated with the production and comprehension of speech sounds, respectively. Broca's area is located in the Frontal Lobe, while Wernicke's area is found at the junction between the temporal and parietal lobe. So, this part of the brain assists you in communication with other members of the society. Non fluent and fluent aphasias are the disorders of language that are caused by any damage or injury to the areas that are responsible for the creation and perception of speech sounds.
Did you ever think how your brain creates a perfect visual image of the things you see in the world around you? Yes, this is the task assigned to the occipital lobe of the telencephalon region of your brain that receives the visual signals from the retina of your eye via the Optic Nerve, and after processing, converts it into the mirror image of the same object.
The perception, recognition and interpretation of the stimuli, related to the sense of hearing, are accomplished by the assistance of Temporal Lobe that stretches across both the hemispheres of the cerebral cortex and is located beneath the lateral fissure. The function of this structurally and functionally specialized region of the brain is not just limited to auditory processing, it is also involved in the production of emotional attitudes, storage of new memories, processing sensory output and the retention of visual memories.
All of the five traditional senses, namely, sight (vision), hearing (auditory), smell (olfactory), taste (gustation) and touch (somatosensory), are perceived, processed and controlled by one of the major parts of brain, i.e. cerebrum. It particularly involves the primary sensory areas. The perception of the world around you is developed by the sensory information that is synthesized by these regions of the cerebral cortex.
Can you take breathing under your voluntary command or control and continue the activity while sleeping? The answer to the first part of the question is no and the reason is explained by the second phrase, i.e. if it were really under your deliberate action, you wouldn't be able to breathe while sleeping, and consequently die! The posterior part of hindbrain, called medulla oblongata, controls involuntary tasks of your body, such as gaseous exchange. The alternative expansion and contraction or relaxation of lung muscles, lowering and elevation of diaphragm, and the similar activity of chest muscles are done quite automatically without even thinking so.
Regulation of Heartbeat
The heartbeat rate or regular pumping of blood by heart is vital to overall functioning of the body as it is responsible for the delivery and elimination of the respiratory gases and the products of metabolism across each smallest part of your body. If there is any delay in the supply of oxygen and essential nutrients, the deprived cells start dying, and an extended delay may even lead to your death. Medulla oblongata is the organ associated with the regulation of you heartbeat rate and is comprised of the lower part of brainstem or hindbrain.
Blood Pressure Control
The maintenance and regulation of blood pressure is one of the involuntary human brain functions performed by the medullar region of your brain that connects the higher parts of Central Nervous System with the spinal cord. It keeps the diastolic (minimum) and systolic (maximum) pressure in the arteries under normal limits, and in case it rises beyond the bearable limits, you are very likely to suffer from heart-attack, brain hemorrhage or other critical circulatory disorders.