The brain is an amazing organ that controls everything our body does. Researchers use the magnetic fields in MRIs to image the different parts of our brains. They study our brain cells, how those cells connect, and all the important functions they make happen.
The brain weighs only three pounds, but controls our body, interprets information from the outside world. It regulates things that we take for granted, including body temperature, heart rate, and breathing. The brain also governs movement, speech, intelligence, creativity, emotion, and memory. It receives information through our five senses: sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing - often several at one time.
Figure 1: Three main parts of the brain
Image: John Childs
Protected within the skull, the brain is composed of the cerebrum, cerebellum, and brain stem.
The cerebellum coordinates muscle movements, maintains posture and balance. The brain stem connects the rest of the brain to the spinal cord and performs many automatic functions such as breathing, heart rate, body temperature, sleep cycles and digestion.
The cerebrum is the largest part of the brain, and the one this activity focuses on. It’s divided into two halves: the right and left brain hemispheres. The cerebrum performs a lot of crucial functions like vision, hearing, speech, and interpreting touch. It’s even in charge of reasoning, emotions, learning, and fine motor-skills.
Each brain hemisphere controls the opposite side of the body. If a stroke occurs on the right side of the brain, your left arm or leg may be weak or paralyzed.
The right hemisphere controls creativity, spatial ability, artistic, and musical skills. The left hemisphere handles speech and writing, comprehension, arithmetic. The left hemisphere is dominant in hand use and language in about 92% of people.
Figure 2: The cerebrum is divided into left and right brain hemispheres. The two sides are connected by the nerve fibers corpus callosum. Each hemisphere controls the opposite side of the body.
Image: John Childs
Figure 3: Brain hemispheres and functionalities
What you’ll need:
- A print out of the cerebrum hat template For adult size, print normally. For child size, click on "shrink oversize pages" when printing.
- Coloring materials such as crayons, colored pencils
- Clear tape or glue stick
What you'll do:
1. Color and cut out both brain hemispheres, around the outside edge.
2. Label the back to indicate the left and right brain hemispheres.
3. On each half, cut a slit on the dashed lines along the large outside curve.
4. At each slit, pull the dashed line to the neighboring solid line and secure it with tape or glue. As you do this you will be creating a rounded half-moon shape.
5. After you create each rounded half, turn them over and connect them with tape or glue along the large curving edges. Work your way along that seam, inch by inch, matching and taping each section as you go.
6. Put the hat on with the Occipital Lobe section on the back of your head and look in the mirror to marvel at your beautiful, amazing brain. (Snap a photo of yourself wearing your Brain Cerebrum Hat and tag us in it on Instagram @NationalMagLab).
Did you know?
- The skull, which protects the brain, is formed from 8 bones that fuse together.
- Blood flow to your brain is called cerebral circulation.
- Your brain is only a small part of your body’s total weight. But it requires a lot of energy! About 15 percent of your heart’s cardiac output goes toward supplying your brain the oxygen, glucose and other nutrients it needs to function.
- What side of your brain is considered dominant. Hint: it has to do with the hand you write with.
- What part of your brain allows you to make decisions?
- Name a function that can only be found on one side of the brain.
Our Cerebellum hat was inspired by this version: https://ellenjmchenry.com/brain-hemisphere-hat/