Cerebrum

The cerebrum fills the whole upper part of the skull. This is the part of the brain in which language, memory, sensations, and decision making are controlled. The cerebrum has two hemispheres, each of which has four lobes (Figure 13.7). The four lobes are:

1. The temporal lobe, which is involved in processing information from the ears and some information from the eyes, as well as memory and emotion.

2. The occipital lobe, which processes information from the eyes.

3. The parietal lobe, which processes information about touch and is involved in self-awareness.

4. The frontal lobe, which processes voluntary muscle movements and is involved in planning and organizing future expressive behavior.

Figure 13.7 Structure of the cerebrum. The highly convoluted cerebral cortex is divided down the midline into left and right hemispheres, and each hemisphere is divided into four lobes: temporal, occipital, parietal, and frontal. The hemispheres are connected by the corpus callosum. Deep inside and between the two cerebral hemispheres are the thalamus and the hypothalamus. A caudate nucleus is located within each cerebral hemisphere.

Figure 13.7 Structure of the cerebrum. The highly convoluted cerebral cortex is divided down the midline into left and right hemispheres, and each hemisphere is divided into four lobes: temporal, occipital, parietal, and frontal. The hemispheres are connected by the corpus callosum. Deep inside and between the two cerebral hemispheres are the thalamus and the hypothalamus. A caudate nucleus is located within each cerebral hemisphere.

The deeply wrinkled outer surface of the cerebrum is called the cerebral cortex. Wrinkling increases surface area. The cortex contains areas for understanding and generating speech, areas that receive input from the eyes, and areas that receive other sensory information from the body. It also contains areas that allow planning.

The cerebrum and its cortex are divided from front to back into two halves— the right and left cerebral hemispheres—by a deep groove called a fissure. At the base of this fissure lies a thick bundle of nerve fibers, the corpus callosum, that provides a communication link between the hemispheres. The caudate nuclei are paired structures found deep within each cerebral hemisphere. These structures function as part of the pathway that coordinates movement.

Also deep inside the brain, lying between the two cerebral hemispheres, are the thalamus and the hypothalamus (see Figure 13.7). The thalamus relays information between the spinal cord and the cerebrum. The thalamus is the first region of the brain to receive messages signaling such sensations as pain, pressure, and temperature, which are then relayed to the cerebrum. The cerebrum processes these messages and sends signals to the spinal cord and to neurons in muscles when action is necessary. The hypothalamus is located just under the thalamus and is about the size of a kidney bean. The hypothalamus is the control center for sex drive, pleasure, pain, hunger, thirst, blood pressure, and body temperature. The hypothalamus also releases hormones that regulate the production of sperm and egg cells as well as the menstrual cycle (Chapter 12).

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