Guided Tour Season 2

This Is Your Brain: The Guided Tour – Training for the Brain Bee

If you want to be a contender in the International Brain Bee, you’ll need to be able to name all the parts of the brain — from the bottom — to the top.  So, here’s your chance to start training for the “big time!” on this week’s edition of: “This is Your Brain – The Guided Tour”.

The names of the parts of the brain are fairly straightforward and obvious – If you happen to be fluent in Classical Latin.   Let’s start with of the bottom of your brain – The Brain Stem.

We are down, deep down, at the bottom of your skull.  The big hole we see at the base of your skull is called the Foramen Magnum – which is Latin for “BIG HOLE!”  You see, we told you this would be obvious!

It is through this “big hole” the brain stem connects to the spinal cord.  Down here in the “basement of the brain” are most of the connections between the brain and the rest of the body.  But, instead of connections for your cable TV and internet, this basement handles all the other essential connections… like signals for keeping your heart beating, and your lungs breathing.

The brain stem is the most evolutionally ancient part of your brain – your “reptile” brain, if you will.  This is the center that controls of some of your most basic functions and reflexes, like chewing, swallowing, coughing, sneezing and vomiting – kind of your “Frat Boy on a Saturday Night” Brain.

Your brain stem is made up of three parts.  Starting at the bottom, the oblong part sticking out of the “big hole” connecting to your spinal cord is called the medulla oblongata – for obvious reasons.

Traveling up the Medulla, we reach the Pons.  The Pons is a round, bulb-like structure which serves as bridge to the middle of your brain.  (And yes, Pons is the Latin word for bridge.)

We’ll end today’s tour of the Brain Stem here in the middle of your brain – with a structure called – that’s right — the Mid-Brain.  Among the many important functions of the mid-brain – it is rich in dopamine neurons.  Ahh, Dopamine, … one of your favorite neurotransmitters, and one of your most addictive…

You’ll hear more about that the next time we train for the Brain Bee on: “This Is Your Brain, The Guided Tour!”

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