Neuroscience

New anatomical study of the human precuneus with geometric models

Emiliano Bruner, a paleoneurologist at the Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (CENIEH), has just published a paper on the morphology of the precuneus in adult humans, which concludes that the variations ...

Neuroscience

What lies between grey and white in the brain

Traditionally, neuroscience regards the brain as being made up of two basic tissue types. Billions of neurons make up the gray matter, forming a thin layer on the brain's surface. These neuronal cells are interlinked in a ...

Genetics

Transposons could be rewiring our brains

A new study by neuroscientists at the University of Oxford shows that mobile genetic elements that were active in the genomes of our ancestors could be closely linked to important functions in our brain and might help diversify ...

Neuroscience

A new method to map brain circuits in real time

To deepen their understanding of the brain, neuroscientists must be able to map in great detail the neural circuits that are responsible for tasks such as processing sensory information or forming new memories. Now, a team ...

Neuroscience

Brain imaging can predict childhood weight gain

A greater density of cells in a key reward center of the brain is associated with obesity in children and predicts future weight gain, a new Yale-led study finds.

Neuroscience

Dog and human brains process faces differently

Researchers of the Department of Ethology at Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary, discovered striking similarities and differences in how dog and human brains process visual information about others. The study was published ...

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Human brain

The human brain is the center of the human nervous system and is a highly complex organ. Enclosed in the cranium, it has the same general structure as the brains of other mammals, but is over three times as large as the brain of a mammal with an equivalent body size. Most of the expansion comes from the cerebral cortex, a convoluted layer of neural tissue that covers the surface of the forebrain. Especially expanded are the frontal lobes, which are involved in executive functions such as self-control, planning, reasoning, and abstract thought. The portion of the brain devoted to vision is also greatly enlarged in humans.

Brain evolution, from the earliest shrewlike mammals through primates to hominids, is marked by a steady increase in encephalization, or the ratio of brain to body size. The human brain has been estimated to contain 50–100 billion (1011) neurons[citation needed], of which about 10 billion (1010) are cortical pyramidal cells.[citation needed] These cells pass signals to each other via approximately 100 trillion (1014)[citation needed] synaptic connections.

In spite of the fact that it is protected by the thick bones of the skull, suspended in cerebrospinal fluid, and isolated from the bloodstream by the blood-brain barrier, the delicate nature of the human brain makes it susceptible to many types of damage and disease. The most common forms of physical damage are closed head injuries such as a blow to the head, a stroke, or poisoning by a wide variety of chemicals that can act as neurotoxins. Infection of the brain is rare because of the barriers that protect it, but is very serious when it occurs. More common are genetically based diseases[citation needed], such as Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and many others. A number of psychiatric conditions, such as schizophrenia and depression, are widely thought to be caused at least partially by brain dysfunctions, although the nature of such brain anomalies is not well understood.

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