The Human Brain Ileen Yeng

My middle school science teacher, Mr. Santoro, once warned, "Insects have been on this earth for millions of years. If they can find a way to be bigger, they would rule the world." At the ripe old age of 13, this was a bug concern for me. Can you imagine how horrific an insect dominant society would be? If you can't, the video below depicts a very accurate representation of the dystopia (if you're short on time, skip to 5:15). All my worries about creepy crawlers turning me into a slave was quickly squashed by a realization: humans rule the world. I know, I know. Duh! In my defense, my prefrontal cortex, which controls rationalization, was still under construction. Before I get too off topic, let me get down to the main idea. It is absolutely astonishing to me that this world is tailored to fit our human needs. Not only is there technology to extend our lives, but we have developed the knowledge to manipulate other organisms to benefit us. Human dominance in the world has stemmed from the power of our magnificent and complex brains.

If humans are able to establish ideas like integrated rate laws (ln[A]t = -k • t + ln[A]0) and masterpieces like Beyoncé's album, Lemonade, then we must be pretty smart, right? Right! We are so smart, that it can't all possibly fit into this aesthetic page. So, here's an overview that corresponds to my 3D sculpture that is suppose to look like a human brain. The brain is divided into left and right hemispheres. Within those hemispheres, there are seven major parts of the brain: frontal lobe, parietal lobe, temporal lobe, occipital lobe, cerebellum, and the brain stem. For stability purposes, I did not replicate the cerebellum or brain stem in my sculpture. However, they are extremely vital structures to the brain. The cerebellum is responsible for communication, posture, and balance. It's name means "little brain." The job of the brain stem is to regulate breathing and heart rate.

The frontal lobe is decorated in red with emojis and puzzles because it controls emotions, problem solving, and reasoning. I mentioned earlier that my slow realization was due to the underdevelopment of my prefrontal cortex and now we know it's because the frontal lobe controls reasoning. The prefrontal cortex is still undergoing construction throughout the teenage years, which might be part of the reasons why teens do and say some pretty questionable things. The temporal lobe can be located by finding the green section on the sculpture. This lobe of the brain conducts all the hearing. Whether it's biology lectures or Beyoncé, the temporal lobe interprets it all! If you're in awe that your brain can process such a wide range of things (or bored out of your mind) , both of your hands might be on top of your head right now. If that's the case, you also found your parietal lobes! This blue section of my sculpture has a variety of felt and food on it because it is responsible for touch and taste. Yup, you can thank your brain for granting you the joy of tasting delicious Ghirardelli chocolate and the equally yummy, heart healthy Honey Nut Cheerios. The Cheerios are supposed to be arranged in the shape of a heart, much to my chagrin. Finally, the occipital lobe is denoted in yellow and is covered with protruding eyes. By now, you can probably guess why. If you said it's because the occipital lobe interprets information from the eye, you're correct! The vision pathway is from the field of vision in left and right eyes → optic nerve → optic chiasm → optic tract → occipital lobe.

As you've probably noticed, the functions of the lobes of the brain are associated with a sense. Our perception of the world is based on our senses. The incorporation of all our senses is what allows us to respond appropriately to stimuli. It is unbelievable to me how swiftly our brain interprets all these incoming messages every second that we are alive. Although our body is built on the rhythm of the heart, it is the brain that determines life. During heart transplants, the heart may still be beating, however the person is not alive because they are brain dead. As a Buddhist, I believe in reincarnation and my dad once told me that we are very lucky to be human. Despite all the hardships of the world, existing as a human is a blessing because it is better than having the inevitable death sentence of a farm chicken or a maggot. As humans, we have been given the power not only to control this world, but the intelligence to improve it, as well.

* There are no citations because all of this information was gathered from lectures, presentations, and notes throughout the unit, research from the summer assignments, as well as other classes that I've had, such as anatomy and physiology I and II and AP chemistry. Unfortunately, my brain doesn't remember all this information word for word, but I did have notes from those classes that I referenced to find this information. The pictures were provided through Adobe Spark Page and the source of the embedded video can be found by clicking on the "Watch on YouTube" button on the bottom, right of the video.

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