Into The Brain Part 2: The Neural Regions

If you missed part 1 of the series, check it out here: Article #1

The journey started with us discovering some of the novel fauna of the brain, some which took us by surprise and some which were as complacent as trees in our own reality. Soon, we found ourselves becoming more and more accustomed to this neural forest and its inhabitants as we start to understand the intricate way in which they are all interconnected with each other and form a synergy that drives one of the most complicated pieces of organic machinery that has ever been perceived. This synergistic forest is the one we now find ourselves impatiently waiting to explore and understand to its deepest core.

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As we trudged on through the contours and densely packed areas of the brain, we soon began to understand that each region and structure of the neural forest had a particular function that could be attributed to it. This function, which we later understood, could be deciphered through the overall “feel” of the place. The feel entailed the basic emotion that the external environment generated within us when we entered and explored a particular realm of the brain. Thus, using our own internal feelings as the emotional compass, we moved forward in order to decipher the various regions of the brain and the overall functions that were associated with the same.

The Vast Plains of the Cerebrum

The first region which we tread into, on the brink of the vast expanse of the neural forest, was the frontal lobes of the Cerebrum. The Cerebrum itself forms the vast chunk of the outer layer that makes up the brain as a whole. This region is the most densely populated area in the brain as a whole, with so many neural connections and inter-tangled networks of neurons that we find it quite difficult to pass through.

Slowly, as we pass and tread over plains and mountains of neurons in the frontal lobes of the Cerebrum, we find our rational thinking skills increasing quite rapidly. Whenever we encounter a diversion or a fork between a large neural branch with immense pulsating impulses, we know the rational decision to make in order to move forward. This ability of ours, which we use to transcend the depths and the obstacles in the frontal lobe, tell us about the inherent function that this region serves as a whole. The frontal lobe is associated with decision making as well as rational thinking in humans.

Tripped Out Fact: The Cerebrum is the layer of the brain which can be said to be the latest addition to its overall structure. These dense and convoluted parts of the neural forest form the regions associated with neural activity related to rational thought processes, decision making and other aspects designed to help us function consciously in everyday life.

The Parietal Fountain of Impulses

Using this internal ability of rational thinking and decision making, we finally reach another part of the brain, which is slightly different from the frontal lobes that we just passed through. This region is more dimly lit than the previous one, even though we slowly feel our visual sense as well as our inherent sensory perception increase drastically in this area. This helps us understand that we are in the Parietal lobe of the brain, the region which controls essential aspects such as processing of stimuli from the sensory apparatus in the body, as well as aspects such as comprehension of external stimuli and language.

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As we move further into this region, we encounter a large neural network which consists of various fast moving impulses which conjoin at one point from various regions of the brain, and are transmitted back through other neural networks, eventually scurrying forth into other regions. This pattern of neural signals help us identify that the Parietal Lobe actually acts as a relay station, where signals from various parts of the body are gathered and passed on to these parts again in order to elicit a particular motor response.

We admire this large interplay of signals in the Parietal Lobe, which looks much more beautiful due to the immense increase in the visual perception, not unlike a large display of waves of fireworks right in the middle of the forest. We move forward, encountering large blood vessels and neural fauna until we descend into a more interesting part of Cerebrum.

The Temporal Descent

Here we find large masses of neurons playing together in a subtle and intense pattern of waves, some of which end abruptly while others spiral in deeper more intricate patterns. As we watch in awe, we slowly feel ourselves travelling back into some of our intense memories related to the language recognition, behavior as well as speech and hearing as sensations. Soon, after experiencing intense bouts of jumbled speech and mumbled words, we struggle to cope with our increased awareness of the behavior patterns that we exhibit. This increased awareness can be a bit overwhelming for the uninitiated as behavioral and speech patterns get jumbled and tangled together in a mass of convoluted thoughts and images, which are portrayed in the form of physical gestures and sounds.

neuron-map

As we slowly regain control of our memories and inch out of the Temporal Lobe, which as we found out is the seat of memories related to some of our first instances of speech and behavior, we understand how intensely interconnected we were with the neural forest as a whole. We understood that as we were discovering newer regions and their functions, we were in fact rediscovering these functions in ourselves too. With this unnerving and intense thought, we started to descend into some of the most primitive parts of the brain.

On the Mountain of Connectivity

Before going below, we decided to have a bird’s eye view on the whole forest, in order to put us at a better location of where we wanted to head exactly and how much distance we had covered. We moved into a clearing, finally coming clear of the intense canopy of neuronal connections, as we trudged up a bridge of connections which formed a large bridge like structure. As we reached the top of this bridge-like structure, we found ourselves overlooking both the hemispheres of the brain. We were on the top of the Corpus Callosum, the bridge which links together the left and right cerebral hemispheres.

Tripped Out Fact: The left hemisphere of the brain is largely responsible for the maintenance of a defined belief system in humans. This hemisphere contains well structured neural networks which cannot be easily molded and changed. Whenever a novel thought comes in, which inherently challenges the pre-defined belief system, the thought itself is denied, leaving no space for its integration.

Tripped Out Fact: The right hemisphere is associated with a wavering and ever-changing neural network. Moreover, the right hemisphere constantly challenges the set-neural networks in the left hemisphere. But, if the charges/impulses/thoughts generated in the right hemisphere are not powerful enough, they may not affect the neural networks in any way. On the other hand, if the thought is powerful enough, it can definitely cause a physiological change in the neural networks as a whole.

As we looked upon the vast hemispheres of the neural forest, we found an interesting aspect. The impulses were in turn causing physical changes in the canopy of the neural forest as a whole, where neurons were forming new connections with their neighbors, and old connections were being broken off and rebuilt with new structures. This gave us a view of the immense plasticity that existed in the forest, where every neural structure or connection was temporary and subject to both physical as well as functional change.

The Dark Recesses of the Limbic System

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From here, we descended into the depths of the limbic system, one of the more primitive regions of our brain which harbors some of our more deep rooted emotions and primitive functioning systems. We crossed the hippocampus where intense surges of past memories started again, taking us back to some of our most primal memories of childhood. The neural networks in the hippocampus were much more random and widespread than the ones in the Temporal Lobe, causing us to access some memories within us which we did not even know existed. We also observed that here, there were young neurons which were actually just growing and getting integrated into neural networks. These neurons would eventually be a part of large neural networks.

Tripped Out Fact: The hippocampus is one of the only regions in the brain where new neurons are synthesized. This helps us create new memories and strengthen them using new neural networks and connections.

As we moved down into some of the most primitive parts of the brain, we saw the Cerebellum from a distance, which is the region associated with functions such as body movement and balance. But, in our extreme curiosity and willingness (not unlike new neurons waiting to form connections) we aimed straight for the core of the limbic system to delve into the primitive brain, also known as the reptilian brain.

The Reptilian Realm

On our descent into the primitive and primal regions of the brain, we were met with intense surges of Dopamine waves, which flew through the neural connections causing earthquake-like effects around us. These Dopamine surges are characteristic of anticipation of certain events or feelings, not unlike the intense anticipation with which we were looking forward to reaching the primal core of the brain.

As we slowly edged past the immense Dopamine surges, we soon found ourselves in a tiny part of the forest, dark and heavily silent. As we observed from a distance, we saw that at the center of this part were two globular structures, about the size of two trucks each if measured with respect to our present scale (as large as a pea for the normal-sized human). As we slowly moved towards these twin structures, we understood that these were the Amygdalae, the structure from where some of our most primal fears originate from. These fears date back to the time when man was primitive and lived in caves, always having to be on the lookout for danger from any direction.

Tripped Out Fact: During orgasm, several regions of our brain shut down in order to ensure that we concentrate on nothing but the orgasm itself. One of the essential regions which shut down during this time are the Amygdalae, which helps us to overcome fear and anxiety. The number of regions of the brain which shut down in women during orgasm is much more than in men, which can cause women to become unconscious during sex as well. In other words, women definitely give in completely to the feeling, while men are still conscious during the act as a whole.

The Spheres of Madness

As we approached with caution, the Amygdalae soon sent surges of intensely fast-moving impulses which seemed to originate from the structure beneath them. These fast paced surges of impulses which were traveling to the brain centers above, represented a kind of alarm or panic button. As soon as this panic button was hit, a primal fear overtook us with such merciless intensity, that we completely lost our heads. The fear and dread that took over us was so overwhelming that it caused us to run off in different directions as if we were running away from each other. The amygdalae had successfully established its control over us, leaving us to the mercy of our primal fears while our more advanced frontal lobes were overpowered by this primitive organ.

Tripped Out Fact: The Amygdala is responsible for passing on intense feelings of fear onto the areas of the Cerebrum associated with rational thinking. If the connection between both these areas are broke, we either find ourselves at the mercy of our tumultuous emotions or find ourselves completely devoid of any emotions at all. The latter is the case which is responsible for the behavior of serial killers.

Down the Rabbit Hole

Running around and trying to escape from some invisible entity, we soon found ourselves falling into the deepest level of the forest, the brain stem. Here, we lay on the forest floor, completely paralyzed. This region is associated with our basic involuntary functions such as breathing and regulation of heart beat. We soon found ourselves being deprived of auditory, visual as well as tactile stimuli as the only thing we could hear and feel were our heartbeats and our incessant yet gradually stabilizing breath. Soon, the sound of our pulse and our breathing rhythm was all that existed as we slowly faded into darkness, only to be awakened by a shaft of light which shined through the darkness. A completely new dimension now awaited us…

Click for the next article in the series

Image Sources: [1], [2], [3], [4]

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