Twitterbrain: a challenge for brain people everywhere

October 18, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Can you help me out?

The challenge: sum up a brain area’s function in a tweet (or equivalent 140 characters, if you’re not on Twitter).

The more I read about the brain, the less I feel I know. What on earth does the posterior cingulate actually do? Come to that, what about the anterior cingulate? Error detection, anxiety regulation, willpower, I’ve seen all sorts of attributions. But can these masses of data be clarified down to a single tweet? Or is this an impossible challenge?

Below is how far I’ve got (regularly updated. I’ve started so I’ll damn well … if not finish, at least proceed!)


Primary visual cortex processes inputs from the eyes, assessing them in terms of basic features like orientation.

The amygdala adds emotional salience to sensory inputs. It is particularly associated with fear responses to threats.

The hippocampus is involved in storing information in long-term memory, and also in spatial navigation.

The posterior parietal cortex processes data about spatial locations and generates representations of the body’s position.

The striatum is a major component of the brain’s dopamine system, linked to incentives, motivation, and reward signalling.

Primary auditory cortex processes inputs from the ears, assessing them in terms of basic features like pitch.

The locus ceruleus controls noradrenaline input to cortex, regulating its flexibility and responsiveness.  See for a review.

Primary somatosensory cortex processes inputs from the skin and muscles, contributing to feelings of touch and body position.

The pituitary gland releases hormones involved in reproduction, homeostasis (e.g. blood pressure and water balance), & growth.

The fusiform gyrus participates in face recognition.

The frontal eye fields are involved in the generation of voluntary eye movements, notably the quick jumps called ‘saccades’.

The primary motor cortex generates ‘command signals’ controlling movements.

The orbitofrontal cortex is involved in calculating what values should be assigned to objects in the environment.


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