Source: image limbic system: public domain; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Brain_limbicsystem.jpg
Hello class. Now the brain is probably most recognizable by that outer layer of wrinkled material that we see all along this green area of the brain. And this is what we call the cerebral cortex, or we would also call this part of the Forebrain. OK, but this is an area that developed much later on in the history of humans, in terms of evolution.
OK, the more basic and earlier parts of our brain development occurred at the Hindbrain. OK, and these are the structures of the brain that are at the center of the core of the brain. OK, and they're connected directly to the spinal cord that goes out to the rest of the body.
This is also an area that we would call the Brainstem, OK, which includes the Midbrain as well as the Hindbrain. So that's this area that's also going along in this area, which we won't go into too much detail, but that might be something that you want to research further. OK, so we're going to talk today about the separate parts of this Hindbrain and the Brainstem. I can go into detail about what sorts of things they actually do for the brain and body.
Now there are four major areas of the Hindbrain and the Brainstem that we're going to talk about today. The first one is the Medulla, or the full name is the Medulla Oblongata, which is this area that's connected directly to the spinal cord. So it's kind of the first part of the brain within our body.
OK, and this Medulla Oblongata is related to things like reflexive, or involuntary, body processes. The things that are important to keeping us alive. So the Medulla regulates things like breathing, heart rate, digestion, swallowing, and it even regulates sneezing. OK, so all these kinds of things that we think of as being reflexive. Although remember, they aren't reflexes, because a lot of those are controlled by the spinal cord itself.
But this is one of those first areas in the brain. The second thing that we have is the Pons, which is this small bulge that's located directly above the Medulla. OK, and the Pons literally means bridge in Latin, and you can see why, because the Pons is related to bridging all of that information from our Hindbrain, and from the rest of our body, to the other areas of the brain.
OK, so it transfers information between the Medulla and the brain and all the different brain structures, particularly in relation to things like sleep and arousal. OK, so it's kind of this messenger section that also helps to regulate those kinds of important body processes. And this works in conjunction with the Reticular Formation.
The Reticular Formation is this little net or network of neurons, which is located inside of the Medulla and up to the Pons. OK, and this is related, as we said, to things like attention, OK, so this is why the Reticular Formation, or RF, isn't fully developed until adolescence. So a lot of kids have very short attention spans, things like that.
It's also related to things like sleep and arousal, like the Pons. The Reticular Activating System, or RAS, activates other areas of the cerebral cortex, and it's the kind of thing that keeps you awake or alert. OK, so that's the kind of thing that you relate to making sure that your awake during certain periods of time, like you're trying to study for a test late at night.
OK, finally, we have the Cerebellum. The Cerebellum is this sort of cauliflower looking structure that's located at the rear of the brain. OK, it's right down underneath and in the back of the cerebral cortex and all the other structures.
OK, and this is helpful because it controls movements, and it helps to regulate coordination and balance. Again, this is a very important basic area of the brain, so it keeps us upright and keeps us moving. It's also related to memories of things like skills and habits, so things that are related to motor movements and basic sorts of memory that we don't necessarily have to think too hard about.