The brain basically controls our body. It is responsible for how we think, how we process information, how we react, even how we feel. But have you asked yourself how the brain communicates? Read on for more interesting facts about the brain’s way of communicating to the body and to the world.
What the Brain Is
It is best that we start from the very beginning which is to define and understand what a brain is. The brain is the central part of the nervous system. It is in charge taking information from the outside world, processes them, and causes the body to react — all in a matter of seconds. Apart from that, it directs how the entire body functions, how it should move and to which direction. In a way, it is the body’s command center of sorts.
Three Parts of the Brain
Part of understanding how the brain communicates is knowing that there are three integral components of the brain. They are the following:
- Cerebrum: Making up the largest portion of the brain is the cerebrum. It basically takes in the information from the five senses and interprets them. Output from this part of the brain usually take the form of reactions, reasoning, speech, acceptance, understanding, and emotions. This is where high order thinking skills develop and consequently manifest. If you think that falling in love is a heart-induced impulse, then you are, unfortunately, wrong. It is the cerebrum that causes you to think and feel a certain way.
- Cerebellum: This is the part of the brain that takes charge of motion. It stays on top of bodily functions that encompass posture, balance, and other kinds of movement. Voluntary movement is controlled by this part of the brain.
- Brainstem: As the name suggests, this is where information coming from both cerebrum and cerebellum passes through in order to go to the spinal cord which then passes on the message via neurons to effect appropriate action. This is the part of the brain that controls involuntary action like breathing, coughing, sneezing, and swallowing to name a few.
To better understand how the brain communicates, one just has to look at how the messages go from one lobe of the brain to the other. A lobe is a part of the cerebrum that takes charge of specific tasks. There are four lobes in all:
- Temporal: It takes care of processing audio information; memory; understanding words and processing language; organizing ideas; and sequencing details.
- Occipital: It takes care of processing visual information.
- Parietal: It takes care of processing sensory information; helps make sense of words, language, and space; is the one most in tune with senses.
- Frontal: It takes care of the affective side such as emotions, behavior, and personality; is on top of high order thinking skills including judgment and finding solutions; is responsible for motion, intelligence, writing, concentrating, speaking, being self aware, and impulse control.
For messages to make sense as they get processed in the different lobes of the brain, it should move throughout the neurons, down to the brain stem, then through the spinal cord, and finally to the different parts of the body. These are the communication structures that the brain uses to communicate:
- Limbic System: This is the focal point of all emotions as well as learning and remembering.
- Basal Ganglia: This is responsible for fine motor movement.
- Thalamus: This is the part of the brain that relays information that needs quick reaction. Being alert and focused are examples of thalamus function.
- Pituitary gland: It controls endocrine glands which is responsible for stress management as well as development of bones and muscles.
- Pineal gland: This takes care of our sleep patterns.
- Hypothalamus: This takes care of our needs which includes the need to be hydrated, the need to eat, the need to belong, and so on.
How do these messages reach different parts of the body? This is through the cranial nerves. There are twelve pairs of cranial nerves that takes charge of specific parts of the body. It is pretty amazing come to think of it. Our body, in a way, is a well-oiled machine where each part has a specific function. So the messages do not get mixed up, our brain via the communication structures relay information to the appropriate cranial nerves. These cranial nerves pass on the information to the specific body part that needs to react, all in a matter of milliseconds. Here are the different cranial nerves and their specific tasks:
- Olfactory: Takes care of the sense of smell.
- Optic: Takes care of the sense of sight.
- Oculomotor: Takes care of eye movement.
- Trochlear: Helps oculomotor with eye movement.
- Abducens: Also helps in eye movement
- Trigeminal: Takes care of the sensation particularly in the facial area.
- Facial: Takes care of face movement.
- Vestibulocochlear: Takes care of the sense of hearing; is also responsible for balance.
- Glossopharyngeal: Takes care of the sense of taste.
- Vagus: Takes care of the heart and the digestive system
- Accessory: Body movement particularly the head.
- Hypoglossal: Body movement particularly the tongue.
To relay information to and from different parts of the brain to the body, the brain uses neurons. Neurons are the pathways which the brain uses to communicate. Here is the usual thing that happens when a message is relayed to and from the brain:
- Message comes in the form of an electronic signal.
- This signal passes through the neurons.
- Neurons are connected via synapses. These are chemical “joints” that connect one neuron from another so the signal can get relayed.
- Signals reach the body part intended and causes reaction such as movement.
All these happen in a matter of seconds. Combined, these neuron signals basically form our thoughts, behavior, and sensory perceptions.
We can actually boost how the brain communicates by increasing amino acids. These acids are essential in building and maintaining neurons and neurotransmitters. The type of amino acids particularly needed for better brain communication health are the following:
- Histidine: This helps keep neurotransmitters in tiptop shape. You can source this from cheese, soybeans, seafood, poultry, white meat, red meat, legumes, beans, and potatoes.
- Tryptophan: This becomes serotonin which is a neurotransmitter that gives us happy vibes and even lowers stress. It also helps you relax and develop healthy sleep habits. You can source this from cheese, red meat, eggs, fish , yogurt, poultry, spirulina, bananas, chocolate, almonds, and peanuts.
- Phenylalanine: One of the amino acids that is helpful for building and maintaining neurons and neurotransmitters is phenylalanine. This impacts both mental health and better mood management. You can source this from avocados, dairy, milk, meat, poultry, fish, seaweed, olives, berried, raisins, and leafy greens.
The brain is truly an amazing body organ. Understanding how the brain communicates will leave anyone at awe. To better support brain health, mood management, and mental well-being, you can definitely utilize amino acids. Through them, you can build and maintain neurons and neurotransmitters, the pathways of brain communication.