The human brain remains a very intricate entity, but cutting-edge discoveries have helped demystify it. Since time immemorial, the brain was viewed as an unchangeable structure. However, probing research done in neuroscience have revealed fascinating facts about this vital organ. Contrary to the long-established belief and according to the neuroscience investigations, the brain happens to be an organ that can physically grow, change and revitalize. This capacity of the brain is known as neuroplasticity. Human experiences, thoughts, and actions can indeed mold the brain. Neuroplasticity, experts claim, is the keystone in the comprehension of the connection between neuroscience and Art Therapy. Images conjured up by the imagination have the potential of producing neurotransmitters and hormones, of restructuring the human brain and much more. Focusing on selected images through the art-making process and visual expression can enhance intellectual capacity, social relations and physical healing.
The Brain Structure and its Functions
As the author Diane Ackerman tellingly phrase it:
“We take for granted . . .
The undeniable fact that each person carries around atop the body a complete universe in which trillions . . .
of sensations, thoughts, and desires stream….
Our brain it a crowded chemistry lab, bustling with nonstop neuro conversations.”
So that’s for metaphors, but it does well to depict the profound complexity of the brain -a complexity that is far beyond the gamut of this book to discuss. So let’s keep it simple. Structurally the brain can be divided into various sectors such as lobes, cortices, and hemispheres. Here, the various regions are conveniently dissected for a better understanding of its functions. Cerebrum, The cerebrum, otherwise known as the neocortex, is a distinctive part of the brain that distinguishes humans from animals. It permits oral language functions and intricate cognition. It consists of the frontal lobe, parietal lobe, temporal lobe and occipital lobe. The neocortex with its lobes encases the limbic system (which will be discussed later).
1. The Frontal Lobe
As suggested by the name, this is the lobe located at the anterior. It is seen as the thinking part of the brain. The frontal part of this lobe —the prefrontal cortex— carries out the cognitive functions such as personality and behavior, intellect, problem-solving, the process of abstract thought, creative thought, attention, inhibition, certain emotion, and reasoning. The rear of the frontal lobe, the motor cortex and pre-motor cortex, control: movement coordination, muscle movements, comprehensive and mass movements, certain eye movements, skilled movements, sense of smell, physical reaction, etc.
2. The Parietal Lobe
This area is receptive to the sensations of touch, temperature, pain, and pressure. It is also associated with language and body scheme. Among its functions are tactile sensation (sense of touch), proprioception (reaction to internal stimulation), sensory comprehension and combination, some visual functions and certain functions of reading and language. Reading disabilities stem from dysfunctions of the lower section of the parietal lobe.
3. The Temporal Lobe
This lobe has two sections that carry out different functions. The upper part takes on the auditory role, and the lower part deals with memory. This region is responsible for some behavior and emotions, sense of identity, certain hearing, music, fear, some vision pathways, visual memories, auditory memories, certain language and speech functions. Damage inflicted on the temporal lobe can result in the inability to comprehend language (receptive aphasia) and impair hearing and memory functions.