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The Brain While Driving

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Andy Mai

on 30 September 2012

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Transcript of The Brain While Driving

The Brain Cerebellum: the cerebellum is responsible for interpreting and reacting to the many stimuli that you encounter while driving. The cerebellum allows us to coordinate our hand and foot movement to maneuver the car. The cerebellum also allows us to maintain balance while driving. Additionally, the cerebellum allows us to remember how to operate a vehicle using procedural memory. Medulla: located at the base of the brain stem, the medulla regulates your heartbeat and breathing while driving If a deer were to run in front of you while you're driving, your medulla would cause your heartbeat along with your respiration. After a police cruiser passes you after following for several feet with its sirens on, your medulla would decrease your heartbeat and respiration. The medulla of a race car driver would increase his heartbeat and respiration as he decides to maneuver his car in and out. Pons: the pons act as a bridge, sending information to other parts of the brain while a person is driving The stop sign that one sees while dancing will be sent to the pons before it is sent to the occipital lobes. The pons receives information about a green light and then it transmit that information to the occipital lobes. If a fire-breathing dragon appears before your car, the sensory stimuli will be sent to your pons and then to your occipital lobes. Reticular Formation: relays important information to other areas of the brain. While driving at night, the reticular formation keeps you alert and aware of your surroundings. Your reticular formation allows you to remain focused on driving, even though there might be fire-breathing dragons outside your car. So you went to a Foo Fighters Concert 3 hours away in Tennessee, the concert ended at 9:00 pm and you have to somehow drive back home while staying awake. The reticular formation will help with this. Thalamus: the brain's sensory switchboard. It directs messages to the sensory areas in the cortex and transmits replies to the cerebellum and medulla. As you drive down the road and perceive a small child, the thalamus receives messages from the sensory cortex and sends them to the cerebellum and medulla. While driving home from work, another driver cuts you off. Your thalamus receives this information and then directs it to your cerebellum causing you to step on the brakes. When backing up into a parking space, the thalamus is involved by by receiving messages from the sensory cortex and then transmitting them to the cerebellum, making small adjustments to maneuver your car. Hypothalamus: responsible for certain metabolic processes and other activities of the autonomic nervous system. It synthesizes and secretes certain neurohormones, often called hypothalamic-releasing hormones, and these in turn stimulate or inhibit the secretion of pituitary hormones. The hypothalamus can secrete hormones that reduces fatigue, hunger, and thirst, allowing a person from being less inefficient. Amygdala: an almond shaped neural cluster of nuclei that is involved in many of our emotions and motivations. When one gets cut off by another driver, the amgdala is activated causing one to feel aggressive. Ex: Road Rage While seeing two cars race past your own vehicle, the amygdala causes you to feel fear and anxiety, causing you to slow down. When going on a street that happens to be the same one that a family friend crashed and died on last year, the memories and feelings stored in the amygdala gets brought up. Hippocampus: involved in the processing and storage of memory. Driving from your school to your home requires the use of the hippocampus, which stores the memories of you going from home to school. (long-term) While driving, you recall that the lane that you're on will be merging into another one soon. You know this from seeing a sign a couple hundred feet back. That information was stored in the short-term memory of the hippocampus. You are driving through an unfamiliar part of Atlanta when suddenly, you see Piedmont Park. You realize that you're in Midtown. This is thanks to your hippocampus. Corpus Callosum: a thick band of nerve fibers that divides the cerebellum into left and right hemispheres. It connects the left and right sides of the brain allowing for the transfers of motor, sensory, and cognitive information between the brain hemispheres. Thanks to my corpus callosum, information about the cars in my right side of vision will be transferred to my left hemisphere. While driving recklessly and having a split brain, I am unable to see the police car in my left visual field. Subsequently, I am pulled over and given a ticket. When presented with a stop sign in my right hemisphere with a split brain, I would be unable to say what I had saw, but I could probably pick it out. Frontal Lobe: one of the four main lobes of the cerebral cortex. Consisting of the prefrontal lobe, the premotor area, and the motor area, the frontal lobe is responsible for the planning of complex cognitive behaviors, and the execution of voluntary muscle movement, respectively. While driving under the influence, alcohol wreaks havoc upon the frontal lobe, causing loss of reason and inhibition. The motor cortex sends orders through a chain of nerves to the arm and hand muscles causing one to turn the steering wheel. The motor cortex is responsible for causing one to step on the breaks by sending orders to the leg and foot muscles. Temporal lobe: part of the cerebral cortex that lies above the ears. Part of it are the auditory areas, each receiving information primarily from the opposite ear. The left auditory area allows one to hear the driver on your right curse at you. The auditory areas let you know an ambulance is coming by receiving and processing the siren. Deaf drivers have auditory areas that don't function properly. In which case, they shouldn't be driving. Occipital lobe: portion of the cerebral cortex lying at the back of the head. A key part of the occipital lobe, the visual cortex, receives information from the visual fields. The visual cortex allows us to know where we are going by interpreting the incoming visual stimuli. Thanks to the visual cortex, I am able to identify the police cruiser on the side of the road trying to caught fast drivers and thus, avoid him. Without my visual cortex, I am unable to see anything. Driving would be dangerous. Parietal lobe: portion of the cerebral cortex lying at the top of the head and towards the rear.This important sensory location has two primary functions: the integration of senses to form perceptions, and the representation of these perceptions in the world around us. Listening to someone talking reduces the activity of the parietal lobe associated with spatial processing as well as dropping driving performance. The somatosensory cortex receives information from skin surface and sense organs. So your eyes and ears would be active while driving. Since the parietal lobe is associated with spatial processing, it is crucial for navigation. Wernicke's Area: involved in the understanding of written and spoken language. Our Wernicke's Area allows us to read the DUI ticket that the police officer gave to us. We took a detour because we saw a sign that said that there was a wreck up ahead. After driving to Mexico, our Wernicke's Area allows us to understand the Spanish dictionary, enabling us to communicate with the locals. Broca's Area: one of the main areas of the cerebral cortex responsible for producing language. Without out Broca's Area, we wouldn't be able to explain to the police officer, why were we going 100 miles over the speed limit. Our Broca's Area allows us to tell the homeless people, who come up to our cars asking for money, that we don't have any. An impaired Broca's Area would prevent you from producing language; you wouldn't be able to ask for directions from the driver next to you.
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