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7.5: Key Takeways

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    • The old brain—including the brain stem, medulla, pons, reticular formation, thalamus, cerebellum, amygdala, hypothalamus, and hippocampus—regulates basic survival functions, such as breathing, moving, resting, feeding, emotions, and memory.
    • The cerebral cortex, made up of billions of neurons and glial cells, is divided into the right and left hemispheres and into four lobes.
    • The frontal lobe is primarily responsible for thinking, planning, memory, and judgment. The parietal lobe is primarily responsible for bodily sensations and touch. The temporal lobe is primarily responsible for hearing and language. The occipital lobe is primarily responsible for vision. Other areas of the cortex act as association areas, responsible for integrating information.
    • The brain changes as a function of experience and potential dam- age in a process known as plasticity. The brain can generate new neurons through neurogenesis.
    • The motor cortex controls voluntary movements. Body parts requiring the most control and dexterity take up the most space in the motor cortex.
    • The sensory cortex receives and processes bodily sensations. Body parts that are the most sensitive occupy the greatest amount of space in the sensory cortex.
    • The left cerebral hemisphere is primarily responsible for language and speech in most people, whereas the right hemisphere specializes in spatial and perceptual skills, visualization, and the recognition of patterns, faces, and melodies.
    • The severing of the corpus callosum, which connects the two hemispheres, creates a “split-brain patient,” with the effect of creating two separate minds operating in one person.
    • Studies with split-brain patients as research participants have been used to study brain lateralization.
    • Neuroplasticity allows the brain to adapt and change as a function of experience or damage.


    1. Do you think that animals experience emotion? What aspects of brain structure might lead you to believe that they do or do not?
    2. Consider your own experiences and speculate on which parts of your brain might be particularly well developed as a result of these experiences.
    3. Which brain hemisphere are you likely to be using when you search for a fork in the silverware drawer? Which brain hemisphere are you most likely to be using when you struggle to remember the name of an old friend?
    4. Do you think that encouraging left-handed children to use their right hands is a good idea? Why or why not?


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    This page titled 7.5: Key Takeways is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Kate Votaw.

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