As you know, the brain is the control center for the central nervous system, and it is made of nerve cells. These cells carry messages to and from various parts of the body to perform the bodily functions that keep the body alive and conscious (“The Human Brain,” 2010). Nerve cells, or neurons, work together to form systems that help humans to solve problems and make decisions.
After passing through the pia mater, you can see the frontal lobe of the brain, as we entered through the frontal bone. This is where the prefrontal cortex (PFC) lives. The PFC is our memory bank because it helps us to use short-term memory and retrieve long-term memories. It also helps the amygdala, which we will see later, to deal with stressful situations. Next, we will enter the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). This part of the brain controls blood pressure and heart rate. It also helps people to focus on tasks, manage emotions, and sense mistakes. As we finish passing through the ACC, we reach the hippocampus. This area of the brain creates new memories. While it may also be involved in mood disorders through a coordination of other brain structures, the importance of the hippocampus is clear because of its role of creating memories alone. The amygdala is in control of our flight-or-fight response. It also retains memories to create fear (“Brain Basics,” n.d.).
This concludes our physical tour of the brain and opens discussion in regard to what happens when the brain is damaged. Although we have not visited every portion of the brain, our short tour has covered the primary regions responsible for mental health. While many regions of the brain are mysterious even with today’s science, these regions visited today reveal our human nature. To damage these regions of the brain can change what makes us the people we believe ourselves to be. Brain injuries leave some survivors with lifelong shortfalls, and it is the biggest cause of long-term disability (Meaney, Morrison & Bass, 2014).
Damage to the brain can have many different results dependent on which part of the brain was damaged. People with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have damage to their PFC. Damage to the ACC has been connected to schizophrenia and depression. While people with a damaged hippocampus can still carry on conversations and remember things prior to the damage, they are no longer able to create new memories. Lastly, the amygdala is responsible for anxiety disorders, as it is the region of the brain that creates fear (“Brain Basics,” n.d.).
As we leave the tour today and exit through the skull, please pay attention to the importance of brain protection, such as that offered by the skull or manmade items such as helmets. The brain is responsible for the entire central nervous system, and while one cannot live without it, it is also true that one cannot be the person they are today if the brain is damaged. It is responsible for our personality, our memories, our fears, and every life function that the human body has.
Brain basics. (n.d.). National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/educational-resources/brain-basics/brain-basics.shtml#WorkingBrain
Meaney, D.F., Morrison, B., & Bass, C.D. (2014, February). The mechanics of traumatic brain injury: A review of what we know and what we need to know for reducing its societal burden. Journal of Biomechanical Engineering 136 (2). doi: 10.1115/134026364
The human brain. (2010). Northeastern University. Retrieved from http://www.northeastern.edu/nutraumaticbraininjury/braintbi-anatomy/