‘A baby is born with over 100 billion brain cells. At birth only 25% of the brain is developed. By age three 90% of the brain is developed.’ (Catherwood, 2000)

Brain areas and brain functions

The diagram of the brain (below) reveals some key ideas about its various areas and functions.

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Our brain and the spinal cord together make up our central nervous system. The spinal cord goes from the brain down to the lower part of the back. It is responsible for taking messages to the brain from the rest of the body, and from the brain to the rest of the body.

When we look at the brain image we can see three main parts:

  • the cerebrum;
  • the cerebellum;
  • the brainstem.

Each of these parts controls a number of important functions.

The cerebrum is the largest part of the brain and it is found at the front of the head. It controls our sense organs – touch, vision, hearing, temperature – and it initiates and co-ordinates movement. It also has a role in problem solving, reasoning, emotions and learning. All thoughts, memories, and imagination occur in this region. In this diagram the cerebrum has been displayed to show the lobes and their function.

Interactive brain quiz

See for yourself some of the things we know about the brain by taking part in a light-hearted quiz (below).

References

Catherwood, D. (2000) ‘New views on the young brain: offerings from developmental psychology to early childhood education’ Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 1, 1.

Acknowledgements

[Information last accessed: 27 July 2017]

This article is adapted from ‘Play, learning and the brain’. An OpenLearn (http://www.open.edu/openlearn/) chunk reworked by permission of The Open University copyright © 2016 – made available under the terms of the Creative Commons Licence v4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/deed.en_GB. As such, it is also made available under the same licence agreement.