Your Really, Totally, Incredibly Awesome Brain

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the brain

The human brain is the command center for your entire body. It makes you who you are. It receives information from your senses, and controls your thoughts and movement.

The brain: a user's manual

Want to start exploring your incredibly complex command center? This 5-minute video describes the locations of many parts of the brain and what they control, including:

  • Cerebrum
  • Hemispheres of the brain
  • Cortex: frontal lobe, temporal lobe, parietal lobe, occipital lobe
  • Thalamus
  • Cranial nerves
  • Cerebellum
  • Brainstem
  • Spinal cord
  • Pons
  • Medulla oblongata
  • Limbic system
  • Reward circuit
  • Amygdala
  • Hippocampus
  • Hypothalamus
  • Pituitary gland
  • Pineal gland


Reward and risk

You may have noted something called the “reward circuit” on the list. The reward circuit releases the chemical dopamine, which makes us feel pleasure. The anticipation of pleasure motivates us to repeat important human behaviors like eating, having fun with friends, or falling in love. But it also encourages us to repeat risky behaviors, like taking drugs.

Drugs signal the brain to release unusually large amounts of dopamine. This dopamine flood causes the “high” that drug users seek. If they repeat the behavior too many times, though, the brain learns to expect the high. That makes it hard to enjoy more normal, simple pleasures—a process that, over time, can lead to addiction.

Maintain your brain 

These are just a few of the parts and functions of the beautiful, amazing, complex human brain. We need to exercise it, protect it, and understand how important it is to every thought and action in our daily lives.

If after viewing the video, you want to learn more about how the brain is affected by addiction, check out the Brain and Addiction page.

Find Help Near You

Use the SAMHSA Treatment Locator to find substance use or other mental health services in your area. If you are in an emergency situation, this toll-free, 24-hour hotline can help you get through this difficult time: call 1-800-273-TALK, or visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. We also have step by step guides on what to do to help yourself, a friend or a family member.

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