For Other Uses, See Brain (Disambiguation). This Article is About | Brain | Aphasia

For other uses, see Brain (disambiguation).

This article is about the brains of all types of animals, including humans. For information specific to the human brain, see Human brain. A chimpanzee brain The brain is the center of the nervous system in all vertebrate, and most invertebrate, animals. Some primitive animals such as jellyfish and starfish have a decentralized nervous system without a brain, while sponges lack any nervous system at all. In vertebrates, the brain is located in the head, protected by the skull and close to the primary sensory apparatus of vision, hearing, balance, taste, and smell. Brains can be extremely complex. The human brain contains roughly 100 billion neurons, linked with up to 10,000 synaptic connections each. Each cubic millimeter of cerebral cortex contains roughly one billion synapses.[1] These neurons communicate with one another by means of long protoplasmic fibers called axons, which carry trains of signal pulses called action potentials to distant parts of the brain or body and target them to specific recipient cells. From a philosophical point of view, it might be said that the most important function of the brain is to serve as the physical structure underlying the mind. From a biological point of view, though, the most important function is to generate behaviors that promote the welfare of an animal. Brains control behavior either by activating muscles, or by causing secretion of chemicals such as hormones. Even single-celled organisms may be capable of extracting information from the environment and acting in response to it.[2] Sponges, which lack a central nervous system, are capable of coordinated body contractions and even locomotion.[3] In vertebrates, the spinal cord by itself contains neural circuitry capable of generating reflex responses as well as simple motor patterns such as swimming or walking.[4] However, sophisticated control of behavior on the basis of complex sensory input requires the information-integrating capabilities of a centralized brain. Despite rapid scientific progress, much about how brains work remains a mystery. The operations of individual neurons and synapses are now understood in considerable detail, but the way they cooperate in ensembles of thousands or millions has been very difficult to decipher. Methods of observation such as EEG recording and functional brain imaging tell us that brain operations are highly organized, but these methods do not have the resolution to reveal the activity of individual neurons. Thus, even the most fundamental principles of neural network computation may to a large extent remain for future investigators to discover.[5] Brains of 8 species of mammals The brain is the most complex biological structure known,[6] and comparing the brains of different species on the basis of appearance is often difficult. Nevertheless, there are common principles of brain architecture that apply across a wide range of species. These are revealed mainly by three approaches. The evolutionary approach means comparing brain structures of different species, and using the principle that features found in all branches that descend from a given ancient form were probably present in

the ancestor as well. The developmental approach means examining how the form of the brain changes during the progression from embyronic to adult stages. The genetic approach means analyzing gene expression in various parts of the brain across a range of species. Each approach complements and informs the other two. The cerebral cortex is a part of the brain that most strongly distinguishes mammals from other vertebrates, primates from other mammals, and humans from other primates. In non-mammalian vertebrates, the surface of the cerebrum is lined with a comparatively simple layered structure called the pallium.[7] In mammals, the pallium evolves into a complex 6-layered structure called neocortex. In primates, the neocortex is greatly enlarged in comparison to its size in non-primates, especially the part called the frontal lobes. In humans, this enlargement of the frontal lobes is taken to an extreme, and other parts of the cortex also become quite large and complex. The relationship between brain size, body size and other variables has been studied across a wide range of species. Brain size increases with body size but not proportionally. Averaging across all orders of mammals, it follows a power law, with an exponent of about 0.75[8] This formula applies to the average brain of mammals but each family departs from it, reflecting their sophistication of behavior.[9] For example, primates have brains 5 to 10 times as large as the formula predicts. Predators tend to have larger brains. When the mammalian brain increases in size, not all parts increase at the same

THE FUNCTIONS OF THE BRAIN The human brain is a complex organ that allows us to think, move, feel, see, hear, taste, and smell. It controls our body, receives information, analyzes information, and stores information (our memories). The brain produces electrical signals, which, together with chemical reactions, let the parts of the body communicate. Nerves send these signals throughout the body. SIZE OF THE HUMAN BRAIN The average human brain weighs about 3 pounds (1300-1400 g). At birth, the human brain weighs less than a pound (0.78-0.88 pounds or 350-400 g). As a child grows, the number of cell remains relatively stable, but the cells grow in size and the number of connections increases. The human brain reaches its full size at about 6 years of age. COMPOSITION OF THE BRAIN The brain consists of gray matter (40%) and white matter (60%) contained within the skull. Brain cells include neurons and glial cells. The brain has three main parts: the cerebrum, the cerebellum, and the brain stem (medulla).

NOURISHMENT OF THE BRAIN Although the brain is only 2% of the body's weight, it uses 20% of the oxygen supply and gets 20% of the blood flow. Blood vessels (arteries, capillaries, and veins) supply the brain with oxygen and nourishment, and take away wastes. If brain cells do not get oxygen for 3 to 5 minutes, they begin to die. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) surrounds the brain. THE NERVOUS SYSTEM The brain and spinal cord make up the central nervous system (CNS). The brain is connected to the spinal cord, which runs from the neck to the hip area. The spinal cord carries nerve messages between the brain and the body. The nerves that connect the CNS to the rest of the body are called the peripheral nervous system. The autonomic nervous system controls our life support systems that we don't consciously control, like breathing, digesting food, blood circulation, etc. PROTECTION The cells of the nervous system are quite fragile and need extensive protection from being crushed, being infected by disease organisms, and other harm. The brain and spinal cord are covered by a tough, translucent membrane, called the dura matter. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is a clear, watery liquid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord, and is also found throughout the ventricle (brain cavities and tunnels). CSF cushions the brain and spinal cord from jolts. The cranium (the top of the skull) surrounds and protects the brain. The spinal cord is surrounded by vertebrae (hollow spinal bones). Also, some muscles serve to pad and support the spine. More subtly, the blood-brain barrier protects the brain from chemical intrusion from the rest of the body. Blood flowing into the brain is filtered so that many harmful chemicals cannot enter the brain.

Of course, language is a function of the peculiar structure of the human brain. Several areas of the brain have been identified with linguistic skills, such as producing and understanding speech. Furthermore, people with brain damage in specific areas have difficulties with very specific aspects of language, implying that it is a highly compartmentalized process. Furthermore, human brains are functionally

asymmetrical, concentrating many areas essential for speech production in one hemisphere.

The Structure of the Brain
In many animals that use sound for communication, the brain is lateralized, placing the control of sound production in one hemisphere of the brain (usually the left); this takes place quite strongly in songbirds and somewhat in monkeys, dolphins, and mice. The phenomenon of lateralization is extremely strong in humans, and in the vast majority language areas are concentrated in the left hemisphere. The right hemisphere controls language in only about 3% of right-handers and 19% of left-handers, and another 68% of left-handers have language circuitry in both hemispheres. There are two major areas of the human brain that are responsible for language: Boca's area, which is though to be partially responsible for language production (putting together sentences, using proper syntax, etc.) and Warnock's area, which is thought to be partially responsible for language processing (untangling others' sentences and analyzing them for syntax, inflection, etc.). Other areas involved in language are those surrounding the Sylvain fissure, a cleavage line separating the portions of the brain that are exclusively human from those we share with other animals. In general, the areas that control language would be adjacent to one another if the human brain was laid out as a flat sheet.

Boca's Aphasia
When people experience damage to Boca's area or its surroundings, their disorder is called Boca's aphasia. As predicted by the central role of Broca's area in language production, Broca's aphasics produce slow, halting speech that is rarely grammatical. Typical Broca's aphasics eliminate inflections such as -ed and words not central to the meaning of the sentence, such as the and and. They generally retain their vocabularies and have no difficulty naming objects or performing other meaning-related tasks. In general, they can deduce the meanings of sentences from general knowledge, but cannot understand sentences whose syntax is essential to their meaning. They are fully aware of their difficulties and the rest of their faculties are unimpaired. The difficulties experienced by Broca's aphasics reveal that Broca's area is central to correct processing and production of grammatical information. However, some Broca's aphasics retain certain grammatical abilities, including the ability to process certain types of syntax. Moreover, the difficulty that Broca's aphasics experience in actual production of speech is also enigmatic; a problem that affected exclusively grammar would not necessarily create difficulty in speaking - only in speaking grammatically. As a result, Broca's area is clearly involved in grammar and language, but there may be other areas in the brain with overlapping functions, and it may not be the seat of all grammatical processing power.

Warnock's Aphasia

When people experience damage to Wernicke's area, the result is a disorder called Wernicke's aphasia, which is in some ways the opposite of Broca's aphasia. Wernicke's aphasics are able to produce generally grammatical sentences, but they are often nonsensical and include invented words. Wernicke's aphasics show few signs of understanding others' speech, and have difficulty naming objects; they commonly produce the names of related objects or words that sound similar to the object's name. The symptoms experienced by Wernicke's aphasics seem to support the idea that Wernicke's are is related to the correct processing of others' communication. It also implies that Wernicke's area could be involved in the retrieval of words from the mental dictionary.

Other Types of Aphasia
Other types of aphasia noted in brain-damaged patients produce even stranger results. If Wernicke's and Broca's area are disconnected, patients cannot repeat sentences they have just heard. This implies that perhaps Wernicke's area, which has processed the sentence heard, is unable to communicate it to Broca's area for repetition. In another type, Wernicke's and Broca's areas remain connected but cannot communicate with the rest of the brain. These patients can only repeat sentences; they cannot speak spontaneously. This suggests that Wernicke's and Broca's areas are doing their jobs, but are not receiving input about what to talk about from the rest of the brain and are therefore paralyzed except when others produce speech.

anguage is one of the pillars of the human intellect. It is the principal means whereby individuals formulate thoughts and convey them to others. It plays a role in analyzing the world, in reasoning, solving problems, and planning actions. It allows us to convey memories of the past and beliefs about the future, to engage others about events that have not taken place, and to express the relations between events. Language is an indispensable part of human culture, without which jurisprudence, commerce, science and other human endeavors could not exist in the forms we know them. It is an object of beauty in its own right. A combination of semantic and artistic force can make writings such as Second Isaiah, the Gettysburg Address, or Shakespeare's sonnets, the definitive statements of spirituality, jurisprudence, or personal love for a culture or an individual. Language is vital to individual success, and diseases affecting language can cripple a person in his or her family or social group. Ongoing research is making progress in understanding language, its neural basis, and how to successfully intervene in the course of language disorders. Lincoln gives Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863. Undated illustration, artist unknown. (The Bettmann Archive.) The language code Modern linguistics has taught us that, in its essence, language is a special kind of

code. A "standard" code consists of a set of symbols that can be connected to the words and phrases in a language. When we crack a code, we understand an encoded message because we understand the language that we have translated the code into. Natural language is a different sort of code, because its forms are related to meaning directly. The forms of language are simple words, sentences, intonation, and other "representations." Words refer to objects, actions, properties and logical connections. Sentences relate words to each other to depict events and states of affairs in the conversation or whether a sentence is a statement or a question. Language is a complex code because all these types of representations interact to determine the meaning of each sentence in each context. Processing language Language processors activate these linguistic representations in speaking, understanding, reading and writing, in a remarkably fast and accurate way. For instance, when we speak, we select words in accordance with what we think our listener will understand. We activate the sounds for each word. We construct a syntactic structure to relate the words to each other, and an intonational contour to convey the syntax. All this information is translated into movements of the mouth, jaw, tongue, palate, larynx and other articulators that are regulated on a millisecond-by-millisecond basis, so that we produce about three words per second or one sound every tenth of a second on average. Yet we only make about one sound error per million sounds and one word error per million words. Watching the brain speak and listen Scientists have tried for over a century to understand how the brain learns, stores, and processes language. The task is difficult because there are no animals who have symbol systems as rich as language. Therefore, for a long time, information about how the brain processed language could only come from the study of the effects on language of neurological disease in humans. In the past decade, exciting new techniques have allowed us to picture the normal brain at work processing language. What used to take decades to learn, as scientists waited for the opportunity to examine the brains of patients at post-mortem, can now be approached in months using positron emission tomography, special analyses of electroencephalograms, functional magnetic resonance imaging, magnetoencephalography, and other tools. Left-brain/Right-brain As is true for every other functional ability, parts of the brain specialize in language. The brain has two roughly identical halves -- the left and the right hemispheres. We now know that there are small differences in the sizes of some regions in the two hemispheres. These differences may form the basis for the first major brain specialization for language -- lateralization of language to the left hemisphere. In about 98 percent of right-handers, the left hemisphere accomplishes most language processing functions. In non-right handers (which include left-handed and ambidextrous people), language functions are far more likely to involve the right hemisphere. There is some evidence that lateralization differs in males and females.

There is also evidence that the non-dominant hemisphere is primarily involved in functions that are just one step beyond the essential language functions of relating form to literal meaning. These include determining the emotional state of a speaker from his or her tone of voice, and appreciating humor and metaphor.

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