BRAIN

The brain is the control center of the body. It controls thoughts, memory, speech, and movement. It regulates the function of many organs. When the brain is healthy, it works quickly and automatically. However, when problems occur, the results can be devastating.

The brain is the most complex part of the human body. This three-pound organ is the seat of intelligence, interpreter of the senses, initiator of body movement, and controller of behavior. Lying in its bony shell and washed by protective fluid, the brain is the source of all the qualities that define our humanity. The brain is the crown jewel of the human body.

All the parts of the brain work together, but each part has its own special properties. The brain can be divided into three basic units: the forebrain, the midbrain, and the hindbrain.

The brain and the rest of the nervous system are composed of many different types of cells, but the primary functional unit is a cell called the neuron. All sensations, movements, thoughts, memories, and feelings are the result of signals that pass through neurons.

Scientists have learned a great deal about neurons by studying the synapse—the place where a signal passes from the neuron to another cell. When the signal reaches the end of the axon it stimulates the release of tiny sacs. These sacs release chemicals known as neurotransmitters into the synapse. The neurotransmitters cross the synapse and attach to receptors on the neighboring cell. These receptors can change the properties of the receiving cell. If the receiving cell is also a neuron, the signal can continue the transmission to the next cell.

Inflammation in the brain can lead to problems such as vision loss, weakness and paralysis. Loss of brain cells, which happens if you suffer a stroke, can affect your ability to think clearly. Brain tumors can also press on nerves and affect brain function. Some brain diseases are genetic. And we do not know what causes some brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease.

The symptoms of brain diseases vary widely depending on the specific problem. In some cases, damage is permanent. In other cases, treatments such as surgery, medicines, or physical therapy can correct the source of the problem or improve symptoms.