Difference Between Brain And Spinal Cord

The difference between the brain and spinal cord is easy to understand as they both have different structure and function. These both are part of the nervous system. Before discussing ‘what is the difference between the brain and spinal cord?’, let us have some basic details about the spinal cord and brain. Both play a very important role in sensing and sending a command to different parts of the human body.


The brain is the main controlling centre of the body. All thoughts, beliefs, memories, and behaviour arise from the brain. The brain has mainly three parts i.e. Cerebrum, Brain stem, and Cerebellum. Each part of the brain occupies smaller areas which perform a specific function of the brain.

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  • Cerebrum: This is the largest part of the brain which contains, Cerebral cortex, White matter, Subcortical structures. The cerebrum is divided into two parts: left cerebrum hemisphere and right cerebrum hemisphere. 

  • Brain stem: The main function of the brain stem is to connect the cerebrum with the spinal cord with the help of a system of nerve cells and fibres located in the upper part of the brain stem.

  • Cerebellum: It is located in between the cerebrum and brainstem. The cerebellum helps in balancing the body with help of balancing liquid in the ear. It helps in movement (walking, running) by receiving the information from the body.

Spinal Cord

The spinal cord is a long, thin, and tube-like structure made up of nervous tissue. The spinal cord starts from the brain stem and continues till the lumbar legion of the vertebral column.  The main function of the spinal cord is to send and receive information from the brain to the rest of the body. It is divided into different segments mixing sensory and motor nerves.

Diagram of the spinal cord representing different segments:

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Functions of the Spinal Cord

Some of the important functions are:

  • Spinal cord helps in Electro-chemical communication by sending and receiving signals from the brain to the different parts of the body.

  • It helps in walking by constantly contracting and relaxing the leg muscles.

  • It helps in reflexes (Involuntary responses).

Now, as we have basic details of the brain and spinal cord, let us discuss the difference between  Spinal cord and Brain.

What is the Difference Between Brain and Spinal Cord?



Spinal Cord 

The brain is the centre for thinking, sensing, remembering, and reasoning.

Spinal cord helps to perform Reflexive actions.

The brain is the portion CNS ( Central Nervous System) that is located inside the skull.

It is a long thin tube-like structure 

The brain sends the command to different parts of the body.

It helps in transferring the signal of motion from the brain to different parts of the body.

The brain is protected by the Skull.

It is protected by the Vertebral column.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. How are the Spinal Cord and Brain Protected?

Answer. The spinal cord is protected by the spinal column and the brain is protected by the skull. Both have Meninges membrane which covers and protects them. Meninges have completely three layers Dura mater (which is closest to the bone), Arachnoid (which is loosely around the brain) and Pia mater (which is closely attached to the brain and spinal cord surface).

2. What is the Function of the Spinal Cord and Brain?

Answer. Spinal cord and brain are the Central Nervous System (CNS) of the body. The brain is the centre of the information and the spinal cord is the pathway to send the signal from the brain to different parts of the body and from the body to the brain.

3. Does Spinal cord Injury Affect the Brain?

Answer. Yes, spinal cord injury affects the brain.  When the spinal cord is injured the spinal nerves below the level of injury receive the signal, but they would not be able to send back the signal to spinal tracts and the brain. This let’s Reflex action happens, but it will not be controlled by the brain.

4. What Three Things Protects the Spinal Cord?

Answer. The spinal cord is protected by bones, Discs, ligaments, and the muscles.