The central nervous system is composed of two principal structures: the brain and the spinal cord. The brain is one of the largest organs in the human body, weighing on average about three pounds and consisting of one trillion neurons by early adulthood.
The brain is subdivided into four major functional areas. The cerebrum, the largest portion of the brain, regulates sensory and motor functions. The convolutions characteristic of the human brain represent the physical appearance of the cerebrum. The brain stem connects the brain with the spinal cord, carrying out both sensory and motor functions. The diencephalon consists of the thalamus, the relay center for sensory functions entering the cerebrum, and the hypothalamus, which controls much of the peripheral nervous system activity and regulates endocrine processes. The fourth portion of the brain is the cerebellum, the rear of the brain where voluntary muscle activity is controlled.
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