What Parts of the Brain Control the Parts of Your Body?

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A patient is receiving a scan. (Image: ep_stock/iStock/Getty Images)

MayoClinic.com describes the brain as “containing billions of nerve cells arranged in patterns that coordinate thought, emotion, behavior, movement and sensation.” Each part of the brain is responsible for a specific function, and they all work together. The main parts of the brain include the cerebrum, cerebellum, limbic system, brain stem and pituitary gland

Cerebrum

Bryn Mawr College describes the cerebrum as the largest part of the human brain; it is covered by gray deep folds and wrinkles. Kidshealth.com adds that the cerebrum makes up 85 percent of the brain’s weight. It is the thinking part of the brain and it controls the voluntary muscles. Both short-term and long-term memory live in the cerebrum.

Bryn Mawr College cites that a deep groove separates the cerebrum into two halves, also known as the left and the right hemispheres. The left hemisphere is associated with logic abilities such as math, while the right hemisphere is associated with creativity. Kidshealth.org says that the right half of the cerebrum controls the left side of the body, and vice versa.

Cerebellum

The cerebellum is explained by scientists as Newhorizons.org as a brain structure that helps the body’s motor and nonmotor regions work effectively. It has been compared to a powerful computer. The cerebellum is located at the lower back of the brain. This fist-sized structure contains more nerve cells than all the rest of the brain combined. The cerebellum connects to the cerebrum by approximately 40 million nerve fibers. A major function of the cerebellum is controlling balance.

Limbic System

The limbic system is referred to as the “emotional brain," according to Bryn Mawr College, and it contains the thalamus, hypothalamus and hippocampus. MayoClinic.com defines the thalamus as the gatekeeper for messages passed from the spinal cord and cerebrum. The hypothalamus controls emotions, and regulates temperature by telling the body to sweat when overheated and to shiver when cold. The hippocampus sends memories to be stored in sections of the cerebrum, then recalls them when necessary.

Brain Stem

The brain stem sits at the base of the brain and connects the rest of the brain to the spinal cord. Bryn Mawr College explains that the brain stem is made of the midbrain, pons and medulla, and it is responsible for vital functions such as breathing, heart rate and digestion. MayoClinic.com adds that this area is also important for sleep.

Pituitary Gland

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the pituitary gland is located at the base of the brain and is connected to the hypothalamus by nerve fibers. This pea-sized gland has three lobes and produces several hormones. Most of the pituitary hormones stimulate other glands, such as the adrenal, thyroid and ovaries.

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