We all know that a babys head is much larger in proportion to its body than an adult, and as kids get older, their bodies become more proportionate, so whats going on inside of these large heads? Well the truth of the matter is: there are many, many theories surrounding the area, and not one of them by itself is wholly correct, HOWEVER it is useful to know about them so that we can have a broad overview and insight into whats happening inside our cheeky little monkeys minds .
Before I go into various theorists and what they propose, I thought it might be useful to take a look at the structure of the brain, and how it forms! (Lets face it, not all of us are roaming around with a conceptual map of the brain! J).
To begin with, weve got the Spinal Cord that is kind of like a big communication gateway, similar to a computer in regards to the Internet. The spinal cord lets an exchange of information between the body and the brain take place. At the very top of the spinal cord then, is the Brain Stem, and that controls our more automatic functions, like our heart rate etc. The brain stem (bless its little existence) is also responsible for the level of alertness we have in the higher levels of our brain.
Moving on from here, we have the Cerebellum that is located at the lower, back part of the brain. The cerebellum is what controls our posture, our more complicated muscle movements and our general bodily orientation. (I remember once reading somewhere that people who have conditions such as Cerebral Palsy often have a split in their Cerebellum but Im not 100% on this, maybe something to write about later!)
Next, we have the Cerebral Cortex that is often referred to as gray matter. The cerebral cortex forms the top part of the brain, and comprised mainly of four major lobes: the occipital, parietal, temporal and frontal. In addition to this, there are also a few more specialised areas within the cerebral cortex (a few off the top of my head are): Wernickes area which processes speech input, and Brocas area which organises the articulation for the output of speech or the motor area which controls our voluntary muscle movements and is located somewhere in the middle of the Cerebral Cortex.
Okay So we know about some of the major areas of the brain now, but how do they all communicate? Well All of the communication within the central nervous system is controlled by these incredibly strange looking things called neurons, which have electrical impulses, or neural impulses and neurotransmitters (otherwise known as chemicals or chemical messengers) travelling through them to other neurons. The structure of a neuron is shown below:
Overwhelmed? take some time to let this all sink in, and i’ll talk about what they can do with all of this in another post
please note: this information has been sourced from a number of my old text books, the one used most however was: Child Development by Cook & Cook, 2005 edition