Holistic Learning Part II: The Brain’s Anatomy

Welcome to Part II of the Holistic Learning series. As mentioned before in Part I, everything is holistic, meaning whole. Everything is connected and related to everything else. This series is examining each aspect that makes learning a whole experience, examining what contributes to learning, the different ways, and so on.

The Brain is of course where it all happens. It’s the chief of the body, it is what makes the chemicals release to feel alert, sleepy, happy, sad. It’s what tells the hand to take notes, and it’s what tells you to slack off when you should really be writing that paper. The brain can sometimes be a jerk.

In order to put it to full use, as with anything, it’s important to know the tool you’re using.

Basic Anatomy

There are three divisions of the brain: the forebrain, the midbrain, and the hindbrain.

  • The Forebrain
    This is divided into different section – the diencephalon and the telencephalon.
    The Diencephalon is further divided into different sections called the thalamus and the hypothalamus, which are both responsible for motor function, passing along sensory information as well as controlling the autonomic functions (involuntary actions of organs, such as the heart beating).
    The Telencephalon contains the cerebrum, which is where the majority of the information that the brain receives is processed.
  • The Midbrain
    This is the teammate of the hindbrain, which, together, create up the brainstem. THis part is responsible for sound and vision function and some motor function (this is also why you shouldn’t lean back in chairs! You could hurt it!)
  • The Hindbrain
    This extends from the spinal cord and is compiled of the metencephalon and the myelencephalon. The former contains the pons (the bridge between the cerebral cortex and the medulla oblongata) and cerebellum. The combination of these two equates to how we balance and function physically. The latter is composed of the medulla oblongata, which is in charge of the autonomic functions like digestion and breathing.

“The brain is composed of three parts: the brainstem, cerebellum, and cerebrum. The cerebrum is divided into four lobes: frontal, parietal, temporal, and occipital.” – Mayo Clinic

The brain is compiled to two halves, the right and left half, as well as different lobes. The two halves communicate with each other by a network series of fibers called corpus callosum, allowing the right and left half to pass notes during class. Each hemisphere of the brain has four different lobes.

” It’s important to understand that each lobe of the brain does not function alone. There are very complex relationships between the lobes of the brain and between the right and left hemispheres.” ~Mayo Field Clinic

  • Right Half
    This controls your left side of your body, and is your creative side of the brain. It is this side that is going to help you paint and sing. It’s also the side that allows you spacial awareness as well.
  • Left Half
    This controls the right side of the body, and in about 92% of people, controls the dominant side. It is also the side that controls language.
  • Frontal Lobe
    Here you will find your personality, your emotions, how you judge a situation (If you wanted to connect with astrology, it would be equivalent to your Sun sign, Moon sign, and Rising sign), your problem solving abilities, your speech, body movement, and “consciousness” – that part that gives you your self awareness and intelligence.
  • Parietal Lobe
    Your interpretation friend. This friend in your brain helps you interpret your senses, such as things you touch, hear, and see (in terms of signals), language, and perception. It will tell you how far away something is, if it’s too hot, or to stop at a stop light.
  • Occipital Lobe
    Interpretation of color and movement.
  • Temporal Lobe
    Here is where your understanding of language comes into play. This is where memory is committed to, and habits are formed, organization occurs.

Having the basic anatomy down is like learning the parts to an airplane. You need to know the basics of physics in order to make sure it keeps running and up in the air. Being conscious of what makes a components will make you conscious of the rolls they play, and thus provide a fuller understanding to the way the brain learns.



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