Five Major Divisions of the Brain - What Are the Major Divisions of the Brain and Their Associated Psychological Functions?

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What are the five major divisions of the brain?

Regardless of which psychology field an individual is considering as a major, it is of vital importance to understand the five major divisions of the brain and what functions they serve. The brain is a complex topic of discussion, and each of the five divisions of the brain is responsible for more than just the functions listed within this text.

In addition to the functions listed, it is also an amazing fact that the brain has the ability to rewire itself to compensate for any an area that might be damaged from disease, disorder or accident. Furthermore, the myth concerning the brain capacity being used is a mere 10% should be dismisses immediately. Scientist now understands that the entire brain is utilized, although nowhere close to its full potential. The term used for the amazing incidence of “rewiring” in brain is neuroplasticity. As well as enabling new locations in the brain to compensate for the damaged areas, it is common knowledge that existing senses can be honed in the absence of one of the primary senses that no longer functions correctly. An example of this refinement can be noticed with a blind or visually impaired person – it is generally the case that hearing and olfactory senses are heightened in the absence of vision than when the individual was blessed with the gift of sight.

Diencephalon and Telencephalon

The forebrain contains two of the major divisions of the brain – the telencephalon and the the diencephalon. The telencepahlon is the largest part of the brain, and it controls our sensory perceptions, thoughts, and our ability to speak and interpret information (Pinel, p. 68).

The diencephalon is made up of two structures known as the hypothalamus. It is this area of the forebrain that is responsible for our fight/flight aroused states, as well as our sexual response cycles. Hormones which control some of these responses are excreted from the pituitary gland which is located below the hypothalamus.


Located in the mid-brain is the mesencephalon, “The two divisions of the mesencephalon are the tectum and the tegmentum” (Pinel, p. 66). It is in this area of the brain that our response to pain is regulated, and this is the part of the brain that can be damaged by drug abuse. Auditory and visual functions are also regulated in this part of the brain.

Metencephalon and Myelencephalon

Located in the hindbrain are the metencephalon and the myelencephalon. These two divisions of the hindbrain play a role in maintaining our fine motor skills such as balance. It is this part of the brain that can be affected by birth abnormalities known to be responsible for causing problems with involuntary bodily movements. The myelencaphalon is also associated with states of arousal, and is often referred to as the “reticular activating system” (Pinel, p 65).


Pinel, J. P. J. (2009). Biopsychology (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.


Kerry Hosking
Posted on Dec 21, 2011
Mrs. Rogers
Posted on Dec 21, 2011