The brain is the largest and most specialized portion of the encephalon. Vital organ of the central nervous system, the brain takes its place in the skull, above other nerve structures, also of the encephalon and always very important for life, such as the diencephalon, the brainstem and the cerebellum.

The brain is composed of two almost symmetrical elements, called cerebral hemispheres. Each cerebral hemisphere has a distinct superficial cellular layer, called the cerebral cortex, and a deeper cellular component, loosely called the subcortical component.

An embryological offshoot of the forebrain, the brain presides over the control of emotions and voluntary functions, the control of sensory functions (hearing, smell, sight, touch, and taste), the ability to speak and understand language, the faculty of memory, learning, and the processing of memories.

Together with the endocrine system, the brain is responsible for part of the regulation of vital functions and is the seat of homeostatic regulation and higher brain functions. In humans, the activity of the brain, studied by neuroscience, gives rise to the mind with its higher cognitive functions and more generally to the psyche with its psychic functions, studied in psychiatry and psychology.

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