You may have heard the statistic that, on average, the brain comprises 2% of the human body mass, but uses up 20% of the total oxygen supply, and 25% of the glucose production. This makes the brain one of the most energetically demanding organs for its size. In particular, the retina is incredibly energetically demanding. The retina is a layer of neurons in back of each eyeball, and serves as the step where light is converted into neural signals. The rods and cones of the retina are photoreceptors responding to light, which then activate or deactivate the subsequent layers of cells.
Let’s talk about the areas of the brain and some of their functions. I will start with a structural overview, and then dive into functionality. If there is something that seems unfamiliar and isn’t bold, try reading this previous post.
The cerebrum, cerebellum, and brain stem make up the brain. For our purposes, we will focus on the structural areas in the cerebrum. The external part of the cerebrum is the cerebral cortex (sometimes referred to as the cortex). The cortex is the large, white part of the brain with grooves in Figure 1 (this is the part that most people think of when imagining the brain). Some subcortical structures, not pictured in Figure 1, are directly below the cortex and are also considered a part of the cerebrum. Subcortical simply means “below the cortex”, so the brain stem and cerebellum are subcortical structures, but are not part of the cerebrum.
Neuroscience papers refer to several different features about the brain. Sometimes, they refer to a specific fold, broad area, or certain type of direction. A general knowledge of the following terms and areas will be the first step to reading and understanding neuroscience literature. Here we will deal with the axes and planes in the brain.