What is the brain?

The brain is the most complex organ in the body, the most complicated computer network known to man. It is not only responsible for the workings of the human body, but also those features that define us as human, our ability to think, emote and feel. The following article is only a brief summary of the information that is available regarding the brain, and even though there has been extensive research into the brain, it still remains the most mysterious organ in the body.

Purpose of the Brain

The brain can be considered the most complicated computer in the world. Saying this though, doesn't quite do justice to just how complicated and amazing the brain is. In one sense the brain does act as a computer - it receives information from inputs such as the eyes and ears, and interprets this information. It also uses this information as well as other, more mysterious processes, to control the movement of the various parts of the body.

The way in which it does this is as fascinating as it is complicated, with the brain being clearly divided into different areas, each having a slightly different function. As each part of the brain has a slightly different function, the loss of these areas through traumatic damage or a stroke can lead to a wide variety of outcomes.

Functions such as vision, movement, hearing and the other senses are actually understood in a bit of detail, however there is another side to the brain that is far more unknown, and people have still not been able to work out the intricacies of it. Emotions, thoughts, memories and what drives someone to do something, things which some people may say are the very essence of what it is to be human, are still complete mysteries. Parts of the brain seem to be associated with this, but how it works is still unknown.

The brain is made up of two types of 'matter', the grey matter and white matter. The grey matter is the thinking part of the brain - the brain cells. In the brain they lie over they surface as well as in several 'islands' called nuclei that are deeper. The surface coating of brain cells is known as the cortex.

The other type of matter is white matter, which is composed of all the nerves of the brain - the connectors that allow the brain cells to communicate with each other. It is white because all of these nerves are coated with a substance called myelin that is quite fatty. So the brain is a coating of 'grey' cells around the outside that send their signalling 'white' nerves towards the centre. It should be noted that in life, the brain is actually pinkish.