The parts of the Brain
To better understand how traumatic brain injury affects the brain, it’s important to first understand the basics about the form and structure of the brain itself.
The Central Nervous System (CNS) is made up of the brain and the spinal cord. While the spinal cord is also susceptible to trauma, the implications of spinal cord injury are very different from those of a brain injury; and as a result, will not be address in this edition of the Goldfinger Guide.
The brain controls the functions of the entire body. It’s responsible for all of the things we think and we do. Just as importantly, it’s also responsible for keeping us from doing the things we shouldn’t do. It’s responsible for our ability to sense things around us; to think, plan, organize, communicate (verbal or non-verbal), to move all parts of the body, and getting from point A to point B. The brain controls basic bodily functions such as breathing, blood pressure, heart rate, bowel movements and bladder function. The brain is also responsible for our personality, emotions, along with the ability to control them along with our behavior. The brain makes us who we are.
Below is a simplistic map of the brain. It’s by no means intended to be comprehensive. But it’s important to take away from this that all parts of the brain need each other to work properly. The frontal lobes cannot do their job controlling executive functioning without the rest of the brain doing its part.
The brain has the consistency of Jell-O and is housed in a hard skull. Between the skull and the surface of the brain are three membranes collective called the “meninges”:
- The first layer is called the dura matter which is the layer attached to the inner surface of the skull
- The second layer is called the arachnoid (the middle layer)
- The space in between the arachoid and the pia layer is called the subarachnoid space. This is a layer of watery fluid called cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) which acts as a cushion for the brain during movement. CSF is produced inside spaces of the brain called ventricles. CSF flows out through the ventricular system into the subarachnoid space, where it is eventually absorbed into the blood stream
- The third layer is called the pia layer which is attached to the surface of the brain
The brain can be divided into three major parts: the forebrain, the midbrain and the hindbrain.