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Brain
Nervous System

Brain

Encephalon

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Quick Facts

The brain is the most superior and enlarged part of the central nervous system. In humans, the brain is situated at a right angle with the spinal cord and is cushioned within the cranium. The human brain is responsible for receiving, integrating, and processing sensory information; monitoring and maintaining homeostasis of body functions and states; effecting voluntary control of the body's skeletal muscles; and for carrying out higher order executive processing, such as decision making and generating consciousness.

The brain can be divided into three anatomically distinct portions:

i) the forebrain, or prosencephalon;

ii) the midbrain, or mesencephalon;

iii) the hindbrain, or rhombencephalon.

The prosencephalon can be further divided into the telencephalon that encompasses the cerebrum, and the diencephalon that encompasses the thalamus, hypothalamus, subthalamus and epithalamus.

The rhombencephalon can also be further divided into two regions, the metencephalon that is composed of the pons and cerebellum, and the myelencephalon that is composed of the medulla oblongata, as well as the eighth to twelfth cranial nerves.

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Cerebral Cortex

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As the cerebral cortex is thought to be the site for higher cognitive functions, an expansion in cortical dimension could explain the evolution of higher-order cognitive activities such as language.

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