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ANATOMIC AND PHYSIOLOGIC OVERVIEW OF THE BRAIN

To better understand cerebral palsy, it helps to understand the anatomy of the brain.
The brain is well protected by:

The scalp

The skull

The dura
o A tough 3-layer sheath that surrounds the brain and spinal cord
o Layers include the dura mater (strongest layer), arachnoid mater (middle layer),
and pia mater (closest to the brain)

The brain is a complicated structure containing many parts. These include:

The cerebrum:

o Made up of two cerebral hemispheres that are connected in the middle


o It is the largest part of the brain
o Each area of the cerebrum performs an important function, such as language or
movement
o Higher thought (cognition) comes from the frontal cortex (front portion of the
cerebrum)
o Outside of the cerebrum are blood vessels
o There are fluid-filled cavities and channels inside the brain

The cerebellum:
o Located in the lower, back part of the skul
o Controls movement and coordination

The brainstem and pituitary gland:


o Responsible for involuntary functions such as breathing, body temperature, and
blood pressure regulation
o Pituitary gland is the "master gland" that controls other endocrine glands in the
body, such as the thyroid and adrenal glands

The cranial nerves:


o Twelve large nerves exit the bottom of the brain to supply function to the senses
such as hearing, vision, and taste

The cerebral blood vessels:


o A complicated system that supplies oxygenated blood and nutrients to the brain

The blood supply to the brain is divided into two main parts:

Anterior cerebral circulation:


o The front of the brain is supplied by the paired carotid arteries in the neck.

Posterior cerebral circulation:

o The back portion of the brain is supplied by the paired vertebral arteries in the
spine.

Cerebellum: The word 'cerebellum' literally means little brain. It is the second largest part of the
brain, and is located at the back, below the occipital lobe, beneath the cerebrum and behind the
brain stem. It contains an outer gray cortex and an inner white medulla, and has horizontal
furrows, which makes it look different from the rest of the brain.
Functions:

Coordination of voluntary muscular movement. Thus, damage to the cerebellum results


in cerebral palsy. Even uncontrolled movements, due to malfunctioning of the cerebellum
can lead to seizures, which manifests as epilepsy. Thus, severe trauma to this region can
even lead to paralysis.

Maintaining balance and equilibrium while walking, swimming, riding, etc.

Storing memory for reflex motor acts. It is basically involved with learning new
movements, and coordinating and executing them properly.

It is also involved with coordinating simultaneous subconscious actions, like eating while
talking or listening etc.

The extension of the central nervous system is through the medulla oblongata, which continues
as the spinal cord, by exiting the skull through the foramen magnum and continuing in the spinal
column. This is where the spinal cord gives out nerves which form the peripheral nervous

system. So, I hope this comprehensive article on diagram of the brain and its functions has
helped you become a mini neurologist in your own right!
By Dr. Sumaiya Khan