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.
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The brain is the main controlling center of the body. All thoughts, beliefs, memories, and behavior 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.
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 cerebral hemisphere and right cerebral 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 fibers 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 the help of balancing liquid in the ear. It helps in movement (walking, running) by receiving the information from the body.
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.
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.
Definition of the Brain vs. the Spinal Cord
The brain can be defined as the major controlling unit of the body. All the bodies’ actions which are required to maintain the body are done by the brain. The brain has 3 parts which are brain stem, cerebrum and cerebellum and each of these parts have specific functions and occupy smaller areas. The cerebrum is the largest one that is composed of the cerebral cortex, subcortical structures and white matter. Cerebrum is further divided into two parts which are called the right cerebral hemisphere and the left cerebral hemisphere. The brain stem has the main function in connecting the cerebrum with the spinal cord. This is done with the help of nerve cells and fibers which arise from the upper part of the brain stem. The last part of the brain is cerebellum which is situated between the brainstem and cerebrum. This helps in balancing the body with the fluid present in the ear which helps in body equilibrium. Cerebellum helps in movement of the body when it receives signals from the body.
The spinal cord is thin, long and tube-like. It is made up of nervous tissues and starts from the brain stem. This continues till the lumbar region part of the vertebral column. Spinal cord has the main function to send and receive signals from the brain to the rest of the body. The spinal cord is divided into different segments of motor and sensory nerves.
1. How are the Spinal Cord and Brain Protected?
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?
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?
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?
The spinal cord is protected by bones, Discs, ligaments, and the muscles.
5. What are the functions of the spinal cord?
The functions of spinal cord can be defined as:
Spinal cord helps in the signaling process i.e. it helps in sending and receiving signals from the brain to all the different parts of the body.
Spinal cord helps in walking by the process of contraction and relaxation of the leg muscles.
It helps in involuntary responses or reflexes.
Spinal cord sends signals from the peripheral sensory nerves to the brain. This allows the brain to detect sensations that include touch, light, pain, vibration, position of your body and its temperature.
6. What are the differences between the spinal cord and brain? Explain.
The differences between the spinal cord and brain are:
The spinal cord is thin and has a long tube-like structure. It is divided into 4 parts which are called cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacral. On the other hand, the brain is divided into 4 parts which are named cerebrum, diencephalon, cerebellum and brainstem.
The spinal cord is located inside the vertebral column and enclosed within it. Whereas, the brain is enclosed inside the cranium which is also called the skull. It is a bony covering which protects the brain from any mechanical injuries or shocks.
7. What are the functions of the brain?
The brain is an organ which controls emotions, memory, thought, touch, vision, breathing, temperature and all the processes that regulate our body. The spinal cord and brain together make the central nervous system or CNS. The brain sends and receives chemical and electrical signals to the body. There are numerous signals which control different processes and the brain can interpret each of these. For example, some of the signals are for feeling the sensations of pain and some are signals for tiredness. Thus, the brain mainly controls all the major functions of the body and also plays a part in the regulation of the body. The different part that is present in the brain has its different functions playing a major role in maintaining the body’s functions.
8. How do the brain and spinal cord interact?
Spinal cord is a tube-like structure which is composed of nerve fibers present in a bundle which moves down from the brain through a canal in the center of bones. The bones protect the spinal cord. Spinal cord is covered by structures called meninges and is cushioned by cerebrospinal fluid or CSF. The spinal nerves connect all the nerves of the body to the brain. The other nerves are connected directly from the brain to the ears, eyes and other parts of the body. This whole network carries signals from and to the brain and the rest of the body.
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