The brain is by far the most complex organ in the human body. It controls everything we do, from breathing and sleeping to planning and performing complex movements, and solving abstract problems. Estimates are that the brain contains hundreds of billions to a trillion individual nerve cells, called neurons.
This tutorial on the brain is provided to be helpful in explaining
the context in which Protagenic Therapeutics' products act, and the
mechanisms of action of its future products. It is a very brief overview of
the major brain structures and their functions in mood regulation. The
series of figures describes the role of brain structures such as the
amygdala and hippocampus, and their role in normal mood regulation, as well
as how stress can adversely affect these functions. For more information on
how PTI's products address these adverse effects, please see our Technology
& IP section.
Neurons are the basic building blocks of the brain, and they help to convey messages throughout the brain and to the rest of the body. These neurons are highly organized into distinct structures in specific parts of the brain. The outer layer of the brain, called the cortex, is organized into functional regions (Figure 1).
Each area of the brain has a special function. For example, neurons in the occipital cortex are specialized for receiving, integrating and relaying visual information (Figure 1). The frontal lobes are very important for integration of emotions and memories and the production of complex thoughts. Each brain area is interconnected with many other regions. This helps to synthesize multiple different types of information, such as primary sensory information, with memories, our accumulated knowledge, and even information about the current state of our body, such as temperature and body position. Information collected by the primary sensory organs (eyes, ears, nose, mouth, skin) is sent directly to the brain, where it is processed and interpreted. This information not only helps you to identify a stimulus in the environment, but in the brain this information can be compared with all of your past experiences, memories, and knowledge. This integration of information helps you to understand what is happening in your environment, and to respond appropriately to that information.