Let’s just get past the part where we talk about how bad I am at blogging, because I really can’t be doing that every single time I remember to write. Moving on:
I’m taking a systems neuroscience class this semester, which means we’re looking at circuits. And not circuits in the electrical way that still confuses me when I over-think it. Circuits like this: an image hits your retina, travels through optic nerve, optic chiasm, etc. Think, very basically, pathways for different types of information.
In preparation for the bulk of the course, we had a crash-course in gross anatomy via dissection of sheep brains, which are pretty nifty. I think, anyway.
I only took the one picture, because the gloves-off-phone-out-phone-away-gloves-on is not one of my more practiced lab skills. But here it is!
Neat, right? This was prior to some much more significant chopping that occurred later in the lab. This is the brain split approximately down the middle. You actually can’t see too much here, and really none of the circuits we went over later.
Of course, you can see the spinal cord, and right above it, the cerebellum — the small, circular part, concerned mostly with movement (and learning and memory, but we won’t go into that right now). See the tree-like white matter running through it? That’s the arbor vitae (tree of life).
The largest chunk of tissue, of course, is the cerebellum. It’s not as folded in the sheep as it is in us, but it is still decently substantial (Yay, mammals!). The outermost part, the cortex, has six layers in mammals, which obviously can’t be seen here. This is where a lot of the higher-order thinking and association goes on. Even in sheep.
Conclusions: Brains are really cool. Even ones that just think sheep thoughts.