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Brain areas


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Medulla oblongata
Lower half of brainstem; continuous with the spinal cord; contains the cardiac, respiratory, vomiting and vasomotor centers and so deals with the autonomic (involuntary) functions, of breathing, heart rate and blood pressure.
Temporal lobe
The lobe that is involved in the retention of visual memories, processing sensory input, comprehending language, storing new memories, emotion, and deriving meaning.
Striatum
Sub-cortical structure; primary input unit of the basal ganglia system; helps coordinate motivation with body movement. It facilitates and balances motivation with both higher-level and lower-level functions, such as inhibiting one's behavior in a complex social interaction and fine-motor functions of inhibiting small voluntary movement. Separated into ventral ( nucleus accumbens and olfactory tubercle) and dorsal divisions (putamen and caudate nucleus).
Prefrontal cortex
In front of the motor and premotor areas; implicated in planning complex cognitive behavior, personality expression, decision making, and moderating social behavior. The basic activity of this brain region is considered to be orchestration of thoughts and actions in accordance with internal goals.
Hypothalamus
It forms the ventral part of the diencephalon; responsible for certain metabolic processes and other activities of the autonomic nervous system. It synthesizes and secretes certain neurohormones, often called releasing hormones or hypothalamic hormones, and these in turn stimulate or inhibit the secretion of pituitary hormones. It controls body temperature, hunger, important aspects of parenting and attachment behaviors, thirst, fatigue, sleep, and circadian rhythms.
Insular cortex / Insula
A portion of the cerebral cortex folded deep within the lateral sulcus; believed to be involved in consciousness and play a role in diverse functions usually linked to emotion or the regulation of the body's homeostasis. These functions include perception, motor control, self-awareness, cognitive functioning, and interpersonal experience.
Pituitary gland
An endocrine gland off the bottom of the hypothalamus; it synthesizes and secretes the a number of important endocrine hormones.
Neocortex / Neopallium / Isocortex
The outer layer of the cerebral cortex; made up of six layers, labelled I to VI (with VI being the innermost and I being the outermost).
Pretectal area
A midbrain structure composed of seven nuclei; it is involved primarily in mediating behavioral responses to acute changes in ambient light such as the pupillary light reflex, the optokinetic reflex, and temporary changes to the circadian rhythm; the anterior nucleus has been found to mediate somatosensory and nociceptive information.
Cerebellum
This brain area does not initiate movement, but it contributes to coordination, precision, and accurate timing. It receives input from sensory systems of the spinal cord and from other parts of the brain, and integrates these inputs to fine tune motor activity; also necessary for several types of motor learning.
Parietal lobe
The lobe that integrates sensory information among various modalities, including spatial sense and navigation, the main sensory receptive area for the sense of touch, and the dorsal stream of the visual system.
Diencephalon
The region of the embryonic vertebrate neural tube that gives rise to posterior forebrain structures; in grown-ups, it is made up of the thalamus, the subthalamus, the hypothalamus, and the epithalamus.
Primary motor cortex
At this cortex, motor representation is orderly arranged (in an inverted fashion) from the toe (at the top of the cerebral hemisphere) to mouth (at the bottom) along a fold in the cortex called the central sulcus.
Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC)
Part of the corpus callosum; consists of Brodmann areas 24, 32, and 33; play a role in a wide variety of autonomic functions, such as regulating blood pressure and heart rate; also involved in rational cognitive functions, such as reward anticipation, decision-making, empathy, impulse control, emotions and error detection.
Basal ganglia
Sub-cortical structure; implicated in action selection; likely to control and regulate activities of the motor and premotor cortical areas so that voluntary movements can be performed smoothly; other roles are control of voluntary motor movements, procedural learning, routine behaviors or "habits" such as bruxism, eye movements, cognition and emotion.
Epithalamus
A dorsal section of the diencephalon; some functions of its components include the secretion of melatonin by the pineal gland (involved in circadian rhythms), and regulation of motor pathways and emotions.
Amygdala
Sub-cortical structure; humans possess two; perform a primary role in the processing of memory, decision-making, and emotional reactions; part of the limbic system.
Central sulcus
Sulcus that separates the frontal form the parietal lobes.
Pons
Upper half of brainstem; links the medulla oblongata and the thalamus; contains contains nuclei that relay signals from the forebrain to the cerebellum, along with nuclei that deal primarily with sleep, respiration, swallowing, bladder control, hearing, equilibrium, taste, eye movement, facial expressions, facial sensation, and posture; implicated in sleep paralysis, and also plays a role in generating dreams.
Limbic lobe
An arc-shaped region of cortex on the medial surface of each cerebral hemisphere of the mammalian brain, consisting of parts of the frontal, parietal and temporal lobes; ambiguous term.
Suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN)
Region in the Hypothalamus that is responsible for controlling circadian rhythms.
Pneumotaxic center
A nucleus in the pons that regulates the change from inhalation to exhalation.
Occipital lobe
The lobes which are the visual processing center
Frontal lobe
"The lobe contains most of the dopamine-sensitive neurons in the cerebral cortex; associated with reward, attention, short-term memory tasks, planning, and motivation; fundamentally executive functions; also retaining longer term memories which are not task-based"
Primary visual cortex
The main area responsible for processing visual information; part of the occipital lobes
Limbic system
Set of brain structures that lies on both sides of the thalamus, right under the cerebrum; it includes the olfactory bulbs, hippocampus, amygdala, anterior thalamic nuclei, fornix, columns of fornix, mammillary body, septum pellucidum, habenular commissure, cingulate gyrus, Parahippocampal gyrus, limbic cortex, and limbic midbrain areas; it supports a variety of functions, including emotion, behavior, motivation, long-term memory, and olfaction.
Mamillary bodies
A pair of small round bodies, located on the undersurface of the brain, that, as part of the diencephalon form part of the limbic system; important for recollective memory.
Tegmentum
Brain area that is involved in many unconscious homeostatic and reflexive pathways; part of the midbrain; located between the ventricular system and distinctive basal or ventral structures at each level.
Nucleus Accumbens
Sub-cortical structure; part of basal ganglia, more specifically the ventral stiatum; an important role in pleasure including laughter, reward, and reinforcement learning, as well as fear, aggression, impulsivity, addiction, and the placebo effect.
Thalamus
A midline symmetrical structure of two halves, within the vertebrate brain, situated between the cerebral cortex and the midbrain; its functions are the relaying of sensory and motor signals to the cerebral cortex, and the regulation of consciousness, sleep, and alertness. It may be thought of as a kind of switchboard of information.
Anterior PFC
Part of the prefrontal cortex that is implicated in Multi-tasking and maintaining goals.
Respiratory center
Receives controlling signals of neural, chemical and hormonal nature and controls the rate and depth of respiratory movements of the diaphragm and other respiratory muscles; part of the Medulla.
Orbitofrontal cortex
Part of the prefrontal cortex that is implicated in Theory of mind, Emotional processing, Personality & Impulsivity.
Paleocortex
A type of cortical tissue; present in the parahippocampal gyrus, olfactory bulb, accessory olfactory bulb, olfactory tubercle, piriform cortex, periamygdalar area, anterior olfactory nucleus, anterior perforated substance, and prepyriform area.
Caudate Nucleus
Sub-cortical structure; part of basal ganglia, more specifically the dorsal stiatum; responsible largely for voluntary movement.
Archicortex
A type of cortical tissue; a type of allocortex; most prevalent in the olfactory cortex and the hippocampus.
Cerebral cortex
Sometimes referred to as referred to as grey matter; outermost layered structure of the cerebrum.
Lateral sulcus / Sylvian sulcus
The sulcus that separates the frontal from the temporal lobe.
Tectum
The dorsal part of the mesencephalon (midbrain); contains the superior colliculus, which is involved in preliminary visual processing and control of eye movement & the inferior collicus, which is involved in auditory processing.
Optic Chiasm
The part of the brain where the optic nerves (CN II) partially cross.
Rhinencephalon
Sub-cortical structure; dealing with olfaction.
Cerebrum
Part of the brain comprising the cerebral cortex (of the two cerebral hemispheres), as well as several subcortical structures, including the hippocampus, basal ganglia, and olfactory bulb.
Interhemispheric fissure
The deep groove that separates the two hemispheres of the vertebrate brain.
Primary somatosensory cortex / Postcentral gyrus
The main sensory receptive area for the sense of touch; part of the parietal lobes.
Telencephalon
The embryonic structure from which the mature cerebrum develops
Substantia Nigra
A midbrain structure that plays an important role in reward, addiction, and movement.
Ventrolateral PFC
Part of the prefrontal cortex that has different function dependent on the hemisphere; the right is thought to be involved in retrieving and maintaining visuospatial information (visuospatial scratchpad); the left is dealing with retrieving and maintaining semantic information (phonological store)
Cingulate Cortex
A part of the brain situated in the medial aspect of the cerebral cortex; part of the limbic lobe; an integral part of the limbic system, which is involved with emotion formation and processing, learning, and memory; therefore highly influential in linking behavioral outcomes to motivation.
Olfactory Bulb
A neural structure of the vertebrate forebrain involved in olfaction; supported and protected by the cribriform plate of the ethmoid bone, which in mammals separates it from the olfactory epithelium.
Primary auditory cortex
The part of the cerebral cortex that processes auditory information; part of the temporal lobe; performing basic and higher functions in hearing.
Hippocampus
Sub-cortical structure; humans have two; plays important roles in the consolidation of information from short-term memory to long-term memory and spatial navigation; part of the cerebral cortex.
Locus coeruleus
A nucleus in the pons; involved with physiological responses to stress and panic; The principal site for brain synthesis of norepinephrine (noradrenaline); Norepinephrine may also be released directly into the blood from the adrenal medulla; implicated in Anxiety Disorders
Nucleus basalis of Meynert
Sub-cortical structure; a group of neurons in the substantia innominata of the basal forebrain which has wide projections to the neocortex and is rich in acetylcholine and choline acetyltransferase; degenerated in PD and AD
Periaqueductal gray
The gray matter located around the cerebral aqueduct within the tegmentum of the midbrain. It plays a role in the descending modulation of pain and in defensive behaviour.
Septal nuclei / Medial olfactory area
A set of structures that lie below the rostrum of the corpus callosum; considered a pleasure zone in animals; plays a role in reward and reinforcement along with the nucleus accumbens.
Ventral Tegmental Area (VTA)
A group of neurons located close to the midline on the floor of the midbrain; the origin of the dopaminergic cell bodies of the mesocorticolimbic dopamine system and is widely implicated in the drug and natural reward circuitry of the brain. It is important in cognition, motivation, orgasm, drug addiction, intense emotions relating to love, and several psychiatric disorders; contains neurons that project to numerous areas of the brain, from the prefrontal cortex (PFC) to the caudal brainstem and several regions in between.
Supplementary Motor Area (SMA)
A brain area that contributes to the control of movement; mainly projects to the motor cortex and spinal cortex; receives input from basal ganglia; not highly connected to prefrontal cortex;
pre-supplementary motor area (pre-SMA)
Anterior 'portion' of the SMA; it has sparse or no connections to the spinal cord or the primary motor cortex and has extensive connectivity with prefrontal areas.
supplementary eye field (SEF)
A relatively anterior portion of the SMA that, when stimulated, evokes head and eye movements and perhaps movements of the limbs and torso.
Putamen
Part of the (dorsal) striatum; the main function of the putamen is to regulate movements and influence various types of learning. It employs GABA, acetylcholine, and enkephalin.
Globus Pallidus
A major component of the basal ganglia; directly targeting the substantia nigra.
Subthalamic nucleus (STN)
From a functional point of view, part of the basal ganglia system. In terms of anatomy, it is the major part of the subthalamus. Its functions are mostly unknown, but it is often used as a target for deep brain stimulation (e.g. for Parkinson's)
Superior Colliculus (SC)
A brain area that forms a major component of the midbrain. It is thought to be involved in directing behavioral responses toward specific points in egocentric ("body-centered") space.
Pedunculopontine nucleus (PPN)
Brain area located in the brain stem; thought to be involved in many functions, including arousal, attention, learning, reward, and voluntary limb movements and locomotion.