The brain is the most complex organ in your body. It has 3 major divisions: the forebrain, midbrain and hindbrain.
These divisions allows us to simplify and understand the functions of the brain. We’re going to break down the major parts of the brain so this complex organ can be simply understood. Because if we can all understand our brains better, perhaps we can use them better too.
Sitting between the forebrain and the hindbrain is – you’ve guessed it – the midbrain!
This is your brain’s relay station for visual and auditory information. It is a vital part of our brain’s ‘information superhighway,’ that processes the visual and auditory signals between the brain and the body.
Why Is The Midbrain Important?
As the center of visual and auditory reflexes, the midbrain primarily receives and processes sensory data from the eyes and ears.
Each moment, it allows us make fine adjustments to our movements. This processing also contributes to enabling eye movement and touch. Therefore, it’s essential to our vision, hearing and motor control.
It also controls and regulates dopamine production, our body’s motivation chemical. This controls our habits and behaviors, as well as our movement and our memory. In fact, it’s a strong contributor to our attention, growth and overall mood.
As if that wasn’t enough, it also plays roles in our sleep/wake cycle, alertness and temperature regulation.
What Are The Parts Of The Midbrain And Their Functions?
Every signal from your eyes and ears goes to your body’s reflex center, the corpora quadrigemina. And the cerebral peduncles helps you dance, among other things! Here’s how:
The Tegmentum and Cerebral Peduncles
At the top of the brainstem are the cerebral peduncles. The tegmentum uses these to communicate directly to the cerebellum in the hindbrain.
Not only does this structure connect the midbrain to the forebrain, it also carries a precious cargo of motor signals to the higher brain.
But don’t get the wrong impression. This isn’t just a glorified truck driver. This structure also chats with your cerebellum (in the hindbrain) to fine-tune your motor movements. This even has a specific name: your sense of proprioception.
To put it another way, it’s your sense of self in your environment. With this, even if you were upside down with a blindfold on, you’d still feel where your hands, feet and arms are.
It’s not all good news, however for our old friend the peduncle. As it’s responsible for refining our motor movements, this is that part of your brain you should blame if you’re terrible at dancing!
In addition to all of this fine motor movement, you find cranial nerves that connect directly from the brain to the eyes. This anchors your vision, enabling you to rotate your eyes in your sockets without you needing to turn your head. Cool, huh?
The Tectum and Corpora Quadrigemina:
The tectum has four divisions, known as the corpora quadrigemina. You can find these on the back of your brainstem. Together they’re your brain’s visual and auditory reflexes.
Thus, this is the reflex integration center of your brain. Here, eye and ear signals come together, and head and eye movements are controlled. Whenever you hear a sudden flash of light or a startling sound, the corpora quadrigemina bolts into action.
Specifically, the superior colliculi is your visual reflex center. And it’s responsible for visual body reflexes, like visual scanning when reading.
Your inferior colliculi, on the other hand is the auditory reflex center. It’s automatic and involuntary, and allows you turn your head towards unexpected acoustic stimuli, like a person calling your name or a sudden sound.
What Happens If Your Midbrain Is Damaged?
One of the most common diseases arising from damage to the midbrain is Parkinson’s disease. Known for muscle stiffness and tremors, Parkinson’s forms due to the death of dopamine-producing neurons in the midbrain.
In fact, there have been unusual links between gambling and drugs impacting the brain negatively. And it’s damage to the dopamine center of your brain that has been linked with Parkinson’s.
Your midbrain can also be affected though physical trauma, such as a traffic accident. Here, nerves can be damaged, and use of limbs diminished. Reflexes, heart rate and respiration can also be affected.
Whether your overcoming an injury or just growing your brain, learning seems to be the best way to maintain a healthy and sharp mind.
As Jim Kwik, Author of Mindvalley’s Superbrain Program, explains, “We need to understand how our minds work so we can work out minds better.”
So, what’s one way you’re going to grow your superbrain today? Share with us in the comments below!