Mental Health and Brain Development

Updated: Sep 28, 2019

Mental Health and Brain Development

Why Understanding Brain Development is Important

Mental Health as many may know is a topic that is discussed all the time. Many people in the field of Psychology discuss the attributes of mental health and do a great job at it, but fail to discuss the importance of a healthy brain. Many individuals rush to diagnosis but don't really discuss or educate others on the functions of the brain why it is one of the most important organs that we have in our body. Yes, our brain is responsible for almost everything in the body i.e. movement, speech, etc, but what happens behind the scenes? What part of the brain influence what? Commoners (individuals outside of the health field) many not even know.

The brain has fascinated scientists and philosophers for centuries. It comprises only 2% of the body’s total weight. There are over 400 billion capillaries in the brain. Capillaries are the fine branching blood vessels that form a network between arterioles and venules. Knowing the cause and effect of the brain's functions is essential to understanding the brain, which is why patients should know about the Central Nervous System (Cause) and the Peripheral Nervous System (Effect). The Nervous System consists of the brain and spinal cord. The spinal cord can be thought of as the highway between the brain and the rest of the body.

Like other main parts of the body, the brain has a number of structures. The cerebrum (the fore-brain) is composed of two parts; the left and the right hemispheres. The right controls the left side of the body and the left controls the right side of the body. Responsible for functions like memory formation and storage, movement, body temperature, senses, emotions, and learning etc. The Mid-brain or the Brain Stem, is located in front of the cerebellum. It is the main panel for the body and passes messages back and forth between the brain and other parts of the body. Control functions like breathing, consciousness, cardiac function, movement of eyes, and mother and relaying sensory messages (pain,heat, noise, etc). Lastly, one of the most important structures of the brain includes the Cerebellum (the mid brain). The Cerebellum receives information the sensory systems, the spinal cord, and other parts of the brain. It is responsible for the following: voluntary muscle movements, maintaining balance, posture and equilibrium and also fine motor skills (which involve the smaller movements that occur in the wrists, hands, fingers, feet and toes).

The Limbic System: Our “Emotional Brain”

Although out brain has four different lobes used to help us control our speech, senses etc.; our emotional brain is equally important. Known as the emotional brain, the Limbic System, is found deep within the cerebrum. The Limbic System contains the Amygdala, hippocampus, and the thalamus. Amygdala, is involved in the emotional reaction such as fear, anger, and pleasure, as well as emotionally charged memories. It also influences behavior such as eating, sexual interest, and the immediate fight or flight reaction to stress. The Hippocampus involves memory and learning where as the Thalamus acts as a two-way relay station. It sorts, process, and directs signals from the spinal cord and mid brain structures to the cerebrum, and from the cerebrum down to the spinal cord. Interesting enough, a health adult brain has over 100 billion nerve cells (neurons) with long branching extensions connected at 100 trillion synapse points. This network is called the “neuron forest.” Information flows through the synapse via tiny chemicals or chemical impulses released by one neuron and received by another.