The cerebe-what? Listen, we get it. The brain can be a complicated subject. People spend years learning and understanding this complicated organ. And we are still learning, too! We want to help you understand the basics of the brain on your journey to greater mindfulness.
The brain is one of the largest organs in the human body; it is also the most complex. The brain is made up of more than 100 billion (!) nerves. These nerves are constantly communicating and creating trillions (!!) of connections. Several specialized areas in the brain are all constantly working together—often without us even thinking about it. Here are 8 terms you need to know.
The cerebellum is the second largest part of the brain. It has left and right hemispheres, connected in the middle by the vermis. The main responsibility of the cerebellum is maintaining our balance. For instance, when we turn or jump, it subconsciously evaluates the movement to keep us steady. So the next time you get off a rollercoaster and regain your balance, you can thank your cerebellum.
The largest part of the brain is the cerebrum. The cerebral cortex, on the outside of the cerebrum, processes both sensory and motor information. It also helps with how we think about ourselves and the world around us. Visible Body describes how this tissue is mostly neuron cell bodies, “and its folds and fissures give the cerebrum its trademark rumpled surface.” The cerebral cortex is divided into a left and right hemisphere, which is then divided into the frontal lobe, temporal lobe, occipital lobe, and parietal lobe. These lobes help your memory, planning, speech, decisions, and more.
You know when your heart starts to race when you’re about to give a presentation or jump off the diving board? That is your amygdala speaking. The amygdala is in the anterior part of the temporal lobe of the cerebrum, playing an important role in our emotions, behavior, and overall motivation.
We have all experienced the moment we smell something that recalls a distant memory. This is due to the hippocampus in our brain. The hippocampus aids in the forming, organizing, and keeping of memories, while connecting emotions and sensations (like smell) to these memories.
The hypothalamus has an important role to control various bodily functions. Some of its responsibilities include releasing hormones, regulating emotional responses, controlling appetite, regulating temperature, and more.
The brain stem sends signals from the brain and the spinal cord and vice versa. It helps in managing involuntary functions, as well as passing on sensory and motor signals. The brain stem includes the medulla oblongata (helps with respiration, digestion, circulation, swallowing, coughing, etc.), the pons (handles breathing), and the midbrain (aids hearing, sight, and motor functions).
Entrainment refers to the synchronization of organisms to an external rhythm. Brainwave entrainment simulates the rhythms of specific brain wave frequencies to help with relaxation and rejuvenation. To reach deep levels of relaxation, visualization encourages imagination, creativity, and innovation.
According to Science Direct, “Brain waves are oscillating electrical voltages in the brain measuring just a few millionths of a volt.” BrainTap describes these frequencies as the following:
Though complex, the brain is a beautiful tool we have. There are many more terms and definitions to help us better understand this complicated organ; however, how we use our brain is even more important than what we know about it. Focusing on mindfulness and mental health will help you have a stronger, more healthy brain, which in turn affects every aspect of your life.
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