News from Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital and Hospital Foundation |

News from Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital and Hospital Foundation

The brain is one of the most complex parts of the human body. It is the body’s control center, which is why maintaining brain health is very important. The cerebral hemisphere, the largest part of the brain, is divided into left and right hemispheres. It carries thought processes forward such as language, learning, memory, and voluntary body movements.

The cerebellum, or little brain, is a small structure under the base of the back of the brain responsible for balance or coordination. The brainstem extends from the base of the brain and continues into the spinal cord. It is made up of pons (the top of the brain stem) and the medulla oblongata (lower part of the brain stem). The brainstem relays signals between the brain and spinal cord. Pons help control your breathing rate where the medulla oblongata controls blood pressure and heart rate.

The brain has four lobes. The frontal lobe where conscious thought, emotion, behavior, personality, organizing and problem solving emulate is located at the front of the brain. Our ability to integrate sensory information such as perception, manipulation of objects, spelling, and arithmetic come from the parietal lobe in the middle top of the brain.

The temporal lobe in the temple region is where our sense of smell and sound, as well as the processing of complex stimuli such as identifying faces, scenes, memory and understanding of language originates. At the far back of the brain is the occipital lobe which controls our sense of sight.

Damage to any of these areas of the brain can have a significant impact. For example, damage to the frontal lobe may result in mood changes and social differences whereas damage to the occipital lobe could result in hallucinations.

The brain is protected by the bones of the skull and a covering of three thin membranes called meninges. Cerebrospinal fluid cushions and protects the brain. This watery fluid is produced by special cells in the four hollow spaces of the brain called ventricles. Cerebrospinal fluid brings nutrients from the blood to the brain and removes waste products from the brain.

Tips to keep your brain healthy include exercising regularly as increased blood flow due to physical activity can counter some of the natural reductions in brain connections that occur as we age. Sleep is very important and some theorize it helps clear abnormal proteins in the brain and consolidates memories.

A healthy diet including plant-based foods, fish, whole grains and healthy fats are vital to cell function and increase mental function. Staying mentally active by doing crosswords, reading, and playing cards and more can act as cross-training for your brain. Remaining socially involved can ward off depression and stress both which can contribute to memory loss.

Giving your brain a workout the same way you work on your body will strengthen your mind, boost your memory and thinking skills. Mental decline is one of the most feared consequences of aging which is why protecting your brain is important.

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