Neuroscience Review: Cerebellum and the Brainstem (Quick Review Notes)

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Institutional Subscription. Instructor Ancillary Support Materials. Free Shipping Free global shipping No minimum order. Presents the first detailed atlas on the human brainstem in more than twenty years Represents all areas of the medulla, pons and midbrain in the plane transverse to the longitudinal axis of the brainstem Consists of 63 plates and 63 accompanying diagrams with an interplate distance of one millimeter Includes photographs of Nissl and acetylcholinesterase AChE stained sections at alternate levels Provides an accurate and convenient guide for students, researchers and pathologists.

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    Unique Features of the Human Brainstem and Cerebellum

    The reticular formation also plays important roles in walking, eating, sexual activity, and sleeping. When electrical stimulation is applied to the reticular formation of an animal, it immediately becomes fully awake, and when the reticular formation is severed from the higher brain regions, the animal falls into a deep coma. Above the brain stem are other parts of the old brain that also are involved in the processing of behaviour and emotions see Figure 4. The thalamus is also important in sleep because it shuts off incoming signals from the senses, allowing us to rest.

    It functions to coordinate voluntary movement. People who have damage to the cerebellum have difficulty walking, keeping their balance, and holding their hands steady. Consuming alcohol influences the cerebellum, which is why people who are drunk have more difficulty walking in a straight line. Whereas the primary function of the brain stem is to regulate the most basic aspects of life, including motor functions, the limbic system is largely responsible for memory and emotions, including our responses to reward and punishment.

    It includes the amygdala, the hypothalamus, and the hippocampus. The amygdala has connections to other bodily systems related to fear, including the sympathetic nervous system which we will see later is important in fear responses , facial responses which perceive and express emotions , the processing of smells, and the release of neurotransmitters related to stress and aggression Best, They found that the once angry animal immediately became passive and no longer responded to fearful situations with aggressive behaviour.

    Electrical stimulation of the amygdala in other animals also influences aggression. In addition to helping us experience fear, the amygdala also helps us learn from situations that create fear. Located just under the thalamus hence its name , the hypothalamus is a brain structure that contains a number of small areas that perform a variety of functions, including the regulation of hunger and sexual behaviour, as well as linking the nervous system to the endocrine system via the pituitary gland.

    Through its many interactions with other parts of the brain, the hypothalamus helps regulate body temperature, hunger, thirst, and sex, and responds to the satisfaction of these needs by creating feelings of pleasure. The researchers noticed that after being stimulated, the rat continued to move to the exact spot in its cage where the stimulation had occurred, as if it were trying to re-create the circumstances surrounding its original experience. In one experiment a rat was given the opportunity to electrically stimulate its own hypothalamus by pressing a pedal.

    The rat enjoyed the experience so much that it pressed the pedal more than 7, times per hour until it collapsed from sheer exhaustion. The hippocampus is important in storing information in long-term memory. If the hippocampus is damaged, a person cannot build new memories, living instead in a strange world where everything he or she experiences just fades away, even while older memories from the time before the damage are untouched.

    All animals have adapted to their environments by developing abilities that help them survive. Some animals have hard shells, others run extremely fast, and some have acute hearing. Human beings do not have any of these particular characteristics, but we do have one big advantage over other animals — we are very, very smart. But this does not really work. Despite these comparisons, elephants do not seem 10 times smarter than whales, and humans definitely seem smarter than mice.

    The key to the advanced intelligence of humans is not found in the size of our brains. What sets humans apart from other animals is our larger cerebral cortex — the outer bark-like layer of our brain that allows us to so successfully use language, acquire complex skills, create tools, and live in social groups Gibson, In humans, the cerebral cortex is wrinkled and folded, rather than smooth as it is in most other animals.

    This creates a much greater surface area and size, and allows increased capacities for learning, remembering, and thinking. The folding of the cerebral cortex is referred to as corticalization. The cortex contains about 20 billion nerve cells and trillion synaptic connections de Courten-Myers, Supporting all these neurons are billions more glial cells glia , cells that surround and link to the neurons, protecting them, providing them with nutrients, and absorbing unused neurotransmitters. The glia come in different forms and have different functions. For instance, the myelin sheath surrounding the axon of many neurons is a type of glial cell.

    The glia are essential partners of neurons, without which the neurons could not survive or function Miller, The cerebral cortex is divided into two hemispheres , and each hemisphere is divided into four lobes , each separated by folds known as fissures. If we look at the cortex starting at the front of the brain and moving over the top see Figure 4.

    Following the frontal lobe is the parietal lobe, which extends from the middle to the back of the skull and which is responsible primarily for processing information about touch. Then comes the occipital lobe at the very back of the skull, which processes visual information. Finally, in front of the occipital lobe pretty much between the ears is the temporal lobe , responsible primarily for hearing and language.

    Furthermore, they discovered an important and unexpected principle of brain activity. This finding follows from a general principle about how the brain is structured, called contralateral control, meaning the brain is wired such that in most cases the left hemisphere receives sensations from and controls the right side of the body, and vice versa.

    Fritsch and Hitzig also found that the movement that followed the brain stimulation only occurred when they stimulated a specific arch-shaped region that runs across the top of the brain from ear to ear, just at the front of the parietal lobe see Figure 4. Fritsch and Hitzig had discovered the motor cortex , the part of the cortex that controls and executes movements of the body by sending signals to the cerebellum and the spinal cord. More recent research has mapped the motor cortex even more fully, by providing mild electronic stimulation to different areas of the motor cortex in fully conscious patients while observing their bodily responses because the brain has no sensory receptors, these patients feel no pain.

    As you can see in Figure 4. Again, the more sensitive the body region, the more area is dedicated to it in the sensory cortex.

    Our sensitive lips, for example, occupy a large area in the sensory cortex, as do our fingers and genitals. Other areas of the cortex process other types of sensory information.

    Unique Features of the Human Brainstem and Cerebellum

    The temporal lobe, located on the lower side of each hemisphere, contains the auditory cortex , which is responsible for hearing and language. The temporal lobe also processes some visual information, providing us with the ability to name the objects around us Martin, The motor and sensory areas of the cortex account for a relatively small part of the total cortex.

    2-Minute Neuroscience: Pons

    These association areas are the places in the brain that are responsible for most of the things that make human beings seem human. The association areas are involved in higher mental functions, such as learning, thinking, planning, judging, moral reflecting, figuring, and spatial reasoning.