I am the texture of a blancmange. I am split into three parts and protected by a hard case. I am absolutely essential. I am pinkish in colour (and have no idea why people often think I’m grey). I carry a lot of responsibility and you rely on me every day. Can you guess who I am? I am Brian’s brain and these are my thoughts.
I control Brian. Without me he simply wouldn’t be alive. Because I am so big and important I am kept safely in his skull, suspended in a liquid called cerebrospinal fluid. I am the largest brain in any mammal (in relation to body size). This is due to my extended cerebral cortex, the part with all the folds.
Despite being suspended in a liquid and shut away in a box, I am still very vulnerable to injury and disease. A blow to the head or a car crash can cause me to wobble about inside my box injuring myself. My tiny blood vessels are also vulnerable to splitting, or to clots which could lead to a stroke. When a stroke occurs parts of me die, and this can leave Brian unable to look after himself.
I have a barrier that prevents things in the blood from entering into me; this is known as the blood brain barrier. But sometimes things like bacteria or viruses can get around my barrier and can cause an infection such as meningitis.
My cerebral cortex part of me is split into two hemispheres, which are sub-divided into 4 areas called lobes. Each lobe has a very important role to play. One controls language, another vision, etc. Both halves contain the same areas, but often one area is more dominant. For example my language centre is more dominant on my right side, but I also have a less dominant centre on the left.
My brainstem is the stalky bit that links my cerebral cortex to my spinal cord. Although this part of me is only small it is extremely important and provides a connection between me and the rest of Brian’s body. At the back of Brian’s head there is another part of me called the cerebellum which is very important in motor control (moving). When you have a few of drinks I work more slowly and that’s what makes it harder for you to walk in a straight line!
You may be young now but unfortunately we all get old and sometimes this can cause me to malfunction and can result in a degenerative disorder, such as Parkinson’s, dementia or Alzheimer’s. Psychiatric conditions can also impact on how well I work. Scientists have now shown that if I have the wrong balance of neurotransmitters in me I can become vulnerable to conditions like depression or schizophrenia.
Over the next couple of weeks I’m going to be telling you about how different parts of me specialise in stuff you wouldn’t even think of (because I think for you!). But it’s well worth realising how important I am and not taking me for granted. So next time you hit your head on a low beam or visit an old relative, just think about what must be going on inside the brain. Look after me, because I look after you!
The guys who specialising in looking after your brain and fixing it if something goes wrong, or if it gets injured, are having a fund raiser in October called The Pyjama Party. If you want to get involved in raising money simply click on the link on this page, register, and they'll send you a fund raising kit with lots of ideas plus a Blue nightcap. (Double-handy just in case you ever need to go on a Smurf themed costume party!)