What’s that Blob in my Skull? by Jaden
What is your brain? How does it learn? Last year I was really interested in different
types of brains and how they learn so I came up with a theory for 6 different types
of brains and I made a quiz to see how different people’s brains learn (this is the quiz.)
Then, this year we started learning more about how the brain works and what happens
when you learn. My knowledge has come a long way in understanding the brain and I have
learned about neurons, neuroplasticity, the limbic system, the prefrontal cortex, and the
The brain is split into four different “lobes”: the frontal, temporal, parietal, and occipital
lobe. Each lobe is associated with something different. The frontal lobe is associated with
executive functions (self-control, planning, and reasoning.) The occipital lobe controls
The human brain contains around 100 billion neurons (brain cells.) A neurons job is to pick
up stimuli (something that can trigger a reaction such as sound, light, heat, and electrical
shocks) and transform them into a nerve impulse (an electrical signal transmitted by a
neuron.) Neural pathways are kind of like my “connect-the-dot brain,” making connections
Neuroplasticity allows you to change the routes that neurons have made. It is a way of
changing a habit, if you continue to change your action then your brain will create a
new pathway and it will get rid of old habits that you no longer need. This is similar
to a process called synaptic pruning which is when you weaken a neural pathway until
it is gone. This mostly happens when you are in your teenage years as your brain is
developing and becoming more efficient.
One of our coaches, B, taught us about the brain in a way that was really interesting and
effective, she used her hand to show how the brain is made. She got us to write on the
bottom of the palm of our hand “brain stem” and on the side of our thumb, we wrote
“limbic system” and at the tip of our fingers on the outside of our hand we wrote “cortex”.
She showed us what each of them controlled and what would happen if you ”flipped your
lid” an analogy created by Dan Siegel about how when you flip your lid there is no
communication between the prefrontal cortex and the limbic system and without
the connection, there is no way you can control your emotions. Also in this workshop
B taught us about strengthening neural pathways and “mammal brain,” “lizard brain,”
and the prefrontal cortex. She taught us these things by using games. For the “mammal
brain” “lizard brain” and the prefrontal cortex she got us to guess which part of the brain
you were using by saying random actions like “empathy” and we would have to do a pose to
guess which part of the brain you were using. For the strengthening neural pathways game, she got us to get into partners and we would have to come up with a scene to remember
things she told us.
The limbic system contains the hypothalamus, the hippocampus, and the amygdala. In general, the limbic system is the center of emotions, but each part has a specific function. The hypothalamus controls hunger, thirst, body temperature, and the release
of hormones and the hippocampus controls memory. This is a memory test from
the Usborne science encyclopedia, “test your short-term memory by reading the
numbers below, then seeing how many you can write down in order. Most people cannot
remember more than seven.”
3 0 9 7 1 2 8 5 4 1 6 9
The cortex controls many functions such as voluntary movement,
interpretation, intelligence, controlling emotions, and regulating physical functions.
The prefrontal cortex controls thinking, thought and problem-solving.
The brain stem is connected to the spinal cord, the cerebrum, and the cerebellum.
It processes all internal stimuli, analyzing changes in the body, controlling the automatic
functions such as your heart beating and breathing. The brain stem is sometimes referred to as the “lizard brain.”
Those are all different things that I have learned this year about the brain. I hope to continue learning about how the brain works. Given all, I knew last year was only my own references, think of what I will know next year! Maybe I’ll be able to answer the most complex questions about the brain that are so in-depth that I can’t even think of them right now!