How the Human Brain Works
The human brain is the center of the human nervous system. It has the same general structure as the brains of other mammals, but is larger than expected on the basis of body size among other primates. Estimates for the number of neurons (nerve cells) in the human brain range from 80 to 120 billion. Most of the expansion comes from the cerebral cortex, especially the frontal lobes, which are associated with executive functions such as self-control, planning, reasoning, and abstract thought. The portion of the cerebral cortex devoted to vision is also greatly enlarged in human beings, and several cortical areas play specific roles in language, a skill that is unique to humans.
Despite being protected by the thick bones of the skull, suspended in cerebrospinal fluid, and isolated from the bloodstream by the blood–brain barrier, the human brain is susceptible to many types of damage and disease. The most common forms of physical damage are closed head injuries such as a blow to the head, a stroke, or poisoning by a variety of chemicals that can act as neurotoxins. Infection of the brain, though serious, is rare due to the biological barriers which protect it. The human brain is also susceptible to degenerative disorders, such as Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer's disease. A number of psychiatric conditions, such as schizophrenia and depression, are thought to be associated with brain dysfunctions, although the nature of such brain anomalies is not well understood.