How your brain works, amazing connections between billions of neuron cells.
In animals, the brain (enkephale) (Greek for "in the skull"), is the control center of the central nervous system, responsible for behavior. The brain is located in the head, protected by the skull and close to the primary sensory apparatus of vision, hearing, equilibrioception (balance), sense of taste, and olfaction (smell). While all vertebrates have a brain, most invertebrates have either a centralized brain or collections of individual ganglia. Some animals such as cnidarians and echinoderms do not have a centralized brain, instead having a decentralized nervous system, while animals such sponges lack both a brain and nervous system entirely. Brains can be extremely complex. For example, the human brain contains more than 100 billion neurons, each linked to as many as 10,000 other neurons.
The brain innervates the head through cranial nerves, and it communicates with the spinal cord, which innervates the body through spinal nerves. Nervous fibers transmitting signals from the brain are called efferent fibers. The fibers transmitting signals to the brain are called afferent (or sensory) fibers. Nerves can be afferent, efferent or mixed (i.e., containing both types of fibers).
The brain is the site of reason and intelligence, which include such components as cognition, perception, attention, memory and emotion. The brain is also responsible for control of posture and movements. It makes possible cognitive, motor and other forms of learning. The brain can perform a variety of functions automatically, without the need for conscious awareness, such as coordination of sensory systems (eg. sensory gating and multisensory integration), walking, and homeostatic body functions such as blood pressure, fluid balance, and body temperature.
Many functions are controlled by coordinated activity of the brain and spinal cord. Moreover, some behaviors such as simple reflexes and basic locomotion, can be executed under spinal cord control alone.
The brain undergoes transitions from wakefulness to sleep (and subtypes of these states). These state transitions are crucially important for proper brain functioning. (For example, it is believed that sleep is important for knowledge consolidation, as the neurons appear to organize the day's stimuli during deep sleep by randomly firing off the most recently used neuron pathways; additionally, without sleep, normal subjects are observed to develop symptoms resembling mental illness, even auditory hallucinations). Every brain state is associated with characteristic brain waves.
Neurons are electrically active brain cells that process information, whereas Glial cells perform supporting function. In addition to being electrically active, neurons constantly synthesize neurotransmitters. Neurons modify their properties (guided by gene expression) under the influence of their input signals. This plasticity underlies learning and adaptation. It is notable that some unused neuron pathways (constructions which have become physically isolated from other cells) may continue to exist long after the memory is absent from consciousness, possibly developing the subconscious.
The study of the brain is known as neuroscience, a field of biology aimed at understanding the functions of the brain at every level, from the molecular up to the psychological. There is also a branch of psychology that deals with the anatomy and physiology of the brain, known as biological psychology. This field of study focuses on each individual part of the brain and how it affects behavior.