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The Nervous Mushroom

The brain is made up of millions of nerve cells, and is part of the nervous system. It is shaped like a mushroom, and the ‘cap’ is called the cerebrum, with a very folded surface.

The Cerebrum

The cerebrum receives messages from all our sense organs, sorts them out and sends off appropriate responses. It also allows us to think, speak and remember things, as well as allowing us to have feelings and emotions.

The ‘stalk’ of the mushroom is called the brain stem, and the most important part of this is the medulla, which controls our life support systems such as breathing and the beating of our heart, without us having to think about it.

Sticking out of the brain stem is the cerebellum (which is located in the back of your head). This controls our sense of balance and allows our movements to be smooth and accurate.

Brain Scans

These scans of the brain and the head were made by an MRI scanner – MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. The image on the left shows a single scan right down the middle of the head, and some of the main blood supplies show up in lighter grey and white.

The other brain scan shows all the blood supply vessels – veins, arteries, capillaries. The more blood flowing towards an area of the brain, the harder that part is working. This is one way we can work out which part of the brain does what.

MRI scanners are so common now, they have their own emoji!

Image credits: Newcastle University

More Brain Scans

This SOMSO® model from Adam,Rouilly shows the interior of the skull, especially the brain, one slice from the front and the other from the side. These same views are also shown in the MRI scans from Newcastle University that were used on Tanno and Iguda’s postcard from the brain.

Image credits: SOMSO® model from Adam,Rouilly / Newcastle University

An encephalic trunk?!

In this video all about the brain, they use the phrase ‘encephalic trunk’ instead of ‘brain stem’. In America, encephalic trunk is a common way to talk about the brain stem.

Did You Know?

Our brains keep on growing until we are about 18 years old. A human brain is made up of over one hundred billion nerve cells.

YOUR MISSION, SHOULD YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT …

YOUR MISSION, SHOULD YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT …

YOUR MISSION, SHOULD YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT …

YOUR MISSION, SHOULD YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT …

Measuring reaction times

In this activity, your eyes send a message to your cerebrum that the ruler is falling. The cerebrum then sends a message to your hand to catch the ruler. It all happens so fast!

Your Task

This requires a partner

  • Hold a ruler vertically in the air. This should be as long as possible, at least 30cm in length.
  • Your partner places their hand at the bottom of the ruler, in line with the zero mark, ready to catch it between their index finger and thumb.

Your partner should let you know that they are ready.

  • Without warning, release the ruler and let it drop – your partner must catch it as quickly as possible as soon as they see it fall.
  • Repeat this so you have ten results, and take an average score.

Swap roles, so that your partner drops the ruler and you catch it.

You can vary this experiment by comparing your left hand and right hand, is there a difference? Does the score change as you get more used to the activity – does practice make perfect?

Extension

You can work out the actual time of the reaction by using the table below. Compare the number on the ruler where the fingers caught it with the time taken.

distance (cm) Reaction time (seconds) distance (cm) Reaction time (seconds)
1 0.045 16 0.181
2 0.064 17 0.186
3 0.078 18 0.192
4 0.090 19 0.197
5 0.101 20 0.202
6 0.111 21 0.207
7 0.120 22 0.212
8 0.128 23 0.217
9 0.136 24 0.221
10 0.143 25 0.226
11 0.150 26 0.230
12 0.156 27 0.235
13 0.163 28 0.239
14 0.169 29 0.243
15 0.175 30 0.247

– MISSION END –

– MISSION END –

– MISSION END –

– MISSION END –

Your Journey So Far …

Tanno and Iguda have explored these places up to now. You can go back and visit again by clicking below.

Mouth

Stomach

Small Intestine

Large Intestine

Blood

Heart

Lungs

Brain

Great to see you here, thank you for the visit! See you next time …

Tanno & Iguda