brain map

We all know that a baby’s head is much larger in proportion to it’s body than an adult, and as kids get older, their bodies become more proportionate, so… what’s 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 what’s happening inside our cheeky little monkey’s 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! (Let’s face it, not all of us are roaming around with a conceptual map of the brain! J).

To begin with, we’ve 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 I’m 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): Wernicke’s area which processes speech input, and Broca’s 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:

a neuron up close

picture sourced from some old lecture notes from my uni days

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

Leave a Comment