The human brain
Every animal you can think of -- mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, amphibians -- all have brains. But the human brain is unique. It gives us the power to think, plan, speak, imagine... It is truly an amazing organ.

The brain performs an incredible number of tasks:

  • It controls body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate and breathing.
  • It accepts a flood of information about the world around you from your various senses (eyes, ears, nose, etc.).
  • It handles physical motion when walking, talking, standing or sitting.
  • It lets you think, dream, reason and experience emotions.
All of these tasks are coordinated, controlled and regulated by an organ that is about the size of a small head of cauliflower: your brain.

Your brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves make up a complex, integrated information-processing and control system. The scientific study of the brain and nervous system is called neuroscience or neurobiology. Because the field of neuroscience is so vast, and the brain and nervous system so complex, this article will start at the beginning and give you an overview of this amazing organ.

In this edition of HowStuffWorks, we will examine the structures of the brain and what each one does. With this general overview of the brain, you will be able to understand concepts such as motor control, visual processing, auditory processing, sensation, learning, memory and emotions, which we will cover in detail in future articles.