Brain Facts

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A Companion Publication to BrainFacts.org

A PRIMER ON THE BRAIN AND NERVOUS SYSTEM

A PRIMER ON THE BRAIN AND NERVOUS SYSTEM

A companion to BrainFacts.org
A PUBLIC INFORMATION INITIATIVE OF:

P r e fa c e
Over the past two decades, scientific knowledge about the structure and function of the brain and nervous system and understanding of brain-based disorders have increased exponentially. Neuroscientists are using remarkable new tools and technologies to learn how the brain controls and responds to the body, drives behavior, and forms the foundation for the mind. Research is also essential for the development of therapies for more than 1,000 nervous system disorders that affect more than 1 billion people worldwide. As these strides occur, it is crucial that scientists communicate with the general public, helping students, teacher, parents, medical caregivers, policymakers, and others stay informed of developments in neuroscience. In particular, students — the scientists, policymakers and scientifically literate citizens of the future — need access to clear, easy-to-use information on this important topic. As part of its enduring commitment to public education and outreach, the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) is pleased to present the seventh edition of Brain Facts: A Primer on the Brain and Nervous System. This edition has been substantially revised. Research progress has been updated throughout the publication, and a new section on animal research added. The information also has been reorganized into six sections to make it easier for readers to glean the “big ideas” covered, and the specific topics that fall under each category. The publication of the Brain Facts seventh edition coincides with the launch of BrainFacts.org, a public information initiative of The Kavli Foundation, The Gatsby Charitable Foundation, and SfN. BrainFacts.org brings to digital life the historic Brain Facts book, and augments it with hundreds of additional, scientifically vetted public information resources available from leading neuroscience organizations worldwide. BrainFacts.org is envisioned as a dynamic and unique online source for authoritative public information about the progress and promise of brain research. It will be updated frequently with the latest neuroscience information from around the globe, while the Brain Facts book will continue to be a vital teaching and outreach tool. We encourage you to visit BrainFacts.org frequently to supplement information found within this companion book, and to join us in the quest for continuing revolutionary advances in understanding the brain and mind.

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Society for NeuroScieNce

coNteNtS N NtS
Introduction .................................................................................................................. 4

Part 1: Introduction to the Brain
Chapter 1: Brain Basics .................................................................................................. 6 Chapter 2: The Developing Brain ................................................................................... 13

Part 2: Sensing, Thinking, and Behaving
Chapter 3: Senses and Perception .................................................................................. 18 Chapter 4: Learning, Memory, and Language .................................................................. 25 Chapter 5: Movement................................................................................................... 29 Chapter 6: Sleep ......................................................................................................... 32

Part 3: Across the Lifespan
Chapter 7: Stress ......................................................................................................... 36 Chapter 8: Aging ........................................................................................................ 39

Part 4: Brain Research
Chapter 9: Kinds of Research...
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