Brain Terms

Brain Divisions and Functions


Conscious thought, perception, intellect, and voluntary muscle activity

Corpus callosum

Large commissure connecting the left and right cerebral hemispheres


Gateway to the cerebral cortex; major sensory relay center; influences mood and movement


Main visceral control center and homeostasis regulator; controls body temperature, the ANS, and the pituitary gland's release of hormones; contains the mammillary bodies that are involved in olfactory reflexes


Involved in olfactory stimulation; contains the pineal gland which sets the body's biological clock


Contains the cerebral peduncles which connects the cerebrum to the brainstem, the corpora quadrigemina (superior & inferior colliculi) with visual and auditory reflex centers, the red nucleus, and substantia nigra.


Bridge between cerebrum and cerebellum; contains the middle cerebellar peduncle, and a respiratory center

Medulla oblongata

Pathway for ascending sensory tracts and descending motor tracts; contains decussation of pyramids, respiratory and cardiovascular centers, and reflex centers for swallowing, coughing, sneezing, and vomiting


Responsible for coordinated muscle movement, agility, tone and posture; involved in learning motor skills

Reticular formation

Runs through the brain stem; contains the reticular activating system (RAS) that helps to awaken from sleep and maintain consciousness and alertness

Basal nuclei (ganglia)

Regulates initiation and termination of body movements; controls skill learning; contains the corpus striatum (caudate nucleus, putamen & globus pallidus) that is involved in regulating voluntary motor activities

Limbic system

Emotional brain; mediates response to emotion, mood, and smell; involved in memory and learning; contains the hippocampus, amygdala, and cingulate gyrus

Major Cerebral Cortex Areas, with Brodmann Areas (BA)

Primary Somatosensory Cortex (BA 1, 2, 3)

Receives the somatic sensory information from the body; located in the postcentral gyrus of the parietal lobe

Primary Motor Cortex (BA 4)

Innervates motor neurons controlling the skeletal muscles; located in the precentral gyrus of the frontal lobe

Primary Visual Cortex (BA 17)

Receives the sense of vision from the eyes; located in the occipital lobe

Primary Olfactory Cortex (BA 28, 34 )

Receives the sense of smell from the nose; located deep within the temporal lobe

Primary Gustatory Cortex

Receives the sense of taste from the tongue; located in the insula

Primary Auditory Cortex (BA 41, 42)

Receives the sense of hearing from the ears; located in the temporal lobe

Primary Vestibular Cortex

Receives the sense of balance from the inner ears; located in the insula and parietal lobe

Broca’s Area (BA 44, 45)

Essential component of the motor mechanisms governing articulated speech; located in the frontal lobe

Wernicke's Area (BA 22, 39, 40)

Essential for understanding and formulating coherent speech; located in the parietal and temporal lobes

Prefrontal Cortex (BA 9, 10, 11, 12)

Controls intellect, conscience, memory, personality, mood, complex reasoning, task management, etc.; located in the anterior frontal lobe