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How does the human brain work?

Dr. Tilly Edinger studied ancient brains through fossils. What do the different regions of the human brain of today look like, and what are their functions? Let’s explore below!

A 3D diagram of the human brain
Human Brain Diagram from the Society for Neuroscience

For example, scientists know that the sense of smell comes from a small section of the brain, called the olfactory lobes. Check out this interactive site from the Society for Neuroscience. Can you identify this section (you can use the search function on the left tab)? We all differentiate smells by breathing in through the nose. Which location of the brain are these nerves located at? Does it make sense? To look at these nerves from another angle, click the “learn more” button in the description and check out this page on imaging the olfactory bulbs in mice.

Apart from smell, other sensory information such as sight, sound and taste is processed by the frontal lobes. It is a large region in the front part of the brain, directly behind the forehead. The frontal lobe is responsible for various vital tasks in our daily lives, for instance, voluntary movements, memory, or decision-making. In particular, the prefrontal cortex is the front part of the frontal lobes that governs complex and social decision makings. Locate the prefrontal cortex on the 3D map. How much space does it occupy? It turns out that this region is actually not constant but undergoes structural development for a long time, all the way into late adolescence! Watch the video on this page to learn more!


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