Brain Gray Matter V/s White Matter – Understand Your Brain Better
The human brain is considered one of the most complex structures in the human body. The brain directs your entire body to function. It is the part of the body where all the magic takes place. Every emotion, every reaction, every thought and the plan to perform every action passes through the brain. To understand your brain better, you must try understanding the parts of the brain and the functioning of the brain. Emotions are often related to the heart and not to the mind. While in reality, your mind is responsible for every emotion you feel and every reaction. Every day you go through a lot of situations in life and a lot of events occur around you. Each event triggers a reaction and emotion in your brain. This is what we often term as our mood, emotions or reaction to the situation.
Often, we are left wondering about what goes on inside the brain and what the brain is made up of. The basic structure of the brain, as we know is made up of three main parts- Cerebrum, Cerebellum and the Brainstem. The brain is a lot more than these three parts. The left and right hemispheres and the various lobes such as parietal, temporal, occipital, and frontal are more discrete structures that the brain can be divided into when we talk about the anatomical structure.
The human brain can also be divided on the basis of gray matter and white matter. Both of these can be differentiated based on various parameters like composition, location and function. Let us find out more in detail about the two and understand how we can compare gray matter v/s white matter in the human brain.
Defining Gray Matter And White Matter
Gray matter and white matter are both named after their respective colors. Gray matter is pinkish-gray in color. White matter on the other hand has higher concentrations of myelin that give these tissues the white color. Both of these types of tissues are a part of the Central Nervous System or the CMS and the spinal cord. It can be said that the regions dense in the gray matter are regions where information and signals are processed. The white matter helps in building communication between regions of gray matter and between regions of gray matter and the rest of the body.
Gray Matter And Its Functions
This brain tissue, the gray matter, is found abundantly in the cerebellum, cerebrum, and brain stem. The gray matter also forms a portion in the spinal cord that is butterfly-shaped.
The functions of gray matter are mostly related to sensory activities. The regions heavy with gray matter are those which control muscular activity.
- The cerebral cortex, which is the outermost layer of the brain consists of columns of gray matter neurons. These columns of gray matter neurons and the white matter located underneath the same create areas that are important for various aspects of higher learning that including memory, attention and thought.
- There is a higher concentration of gray matter in the cerebellum which is important for control, coordination and precision.
- Gray matter is involved in other aspects, like intelligence, personality, planning, organizing, language processing, etc.
White Matter And Its Functions
The white matter regions of the brain consisting of myelinated axons. These are long relays extending out of the soma. Soma is a structure that is spherical and houses the nucleus of the neurons. The myelinated axons have a high lipid fat content of the myelin protein that gives the white color.
The function of white blood cells is to form connections between brain cells.
- The job of white matter is to conduct, process, and send nerve signals up and down the spinal cord.
- The myelin-insulated axons help signals travel faster.
- These enable the nerve cell function that is important for sensory and motor function.
Location Of Gray Matter And White Matter
Neuronal cell bodies or gray matter are present abundantly in the cerebrum, cerebellum and brain stem. The cerebellum makes up only 10% of the brain volume but consists of more neurons than most of the brain. The cerebrum and the cerebellum have an external layer of gray matter. Gray matter in the brain stem is located in groups of neurons that are known as nuclei. These are embedded within white matter tracts.
White matter is well organized into tracts of axons. White matter, in the cerebrum and the cerebellum, is found in the deeper areas. In these regions, gray matter coats the white matter. Some gray matter structures are embedded in the white matter core.
The location and composition of the gray matter and the white matter are reversed in the spinal cord. Here, the white matter is distributed around the central butterfly structure of the gray matter.
Diseases And Disorders Of The Gray Matter And White Matter
- The loss of neurons that make up the gray matter causes diseases known as neurodegenerative diseases. Dementias like Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia are a few common examples.
- The back portion of the butterfly structure of gray matter in the spinal cord is known as the posterior or dorsal gray horn. Any issues and problems with the dorsal gray horn affect the interpretation ability of the brain for sensory information.
- The front part of this gray matter butterfly structure is known as the ventral gray horn and the problems with this region interfere with the ability of the body to receive motor information. Paralysis, tingling and muscle weakening are a few examples.
- Nerve signal transit can be disrupted by the problems caused to the white matter. This can turn out to be a serious issue.
- Multiple sclerosis leads to motor and sensory disruption.
- White matter disease is accountable for 20% of the stroke worldwide,
- Spinal cord injury with the axon bundles being damaged may lead to a loss of connection between the brain and the spinal cord.
Strengthening Gray And White Matter
Your brain is one of the most important parts of your body and preventing any major disorders and diseases is essential to living a healthier life. Strengthening the gray and white matter in the brain is a good way of doing the same.
Strengthening the gray and the white matter in your brain is important not only to prevent major diseases and disorders but also for leading a better life every day. Balancing the different parts of your nervous system is essential for managing the emotions and reactions that originate in your mind. Reducing stress and anxiety is one of the major reasons why you must work on strengthening the gray and white matter. Strengthening the gray and white matter of the brain will also help in improving your memory. It is beneficial for improving your thinking. Healing the brain and reducing negative emotions is another benefit of strengthening your gray and white matter.
The following are some tips for strengthening the gray and the white matter in the brain:
- The best method of strengthening the brain’s gray and white matter is meditation and mindful activities.
- Quality sleep is another factor for the same.
- Learning new skills benefits both, the gray and the white matter.
- Playing games that need you to solve problems creatively.
- Physical exercises are good for both gray and white matter in the brain.
Knowing better, in detail, about your brain helps you stay informed and understand any disorders or diseases that your doctor may diagnose. This will also help you choose the right treatment and stay strong as you go through your journey or support a family member or friend through the same. Knowing more about strengthening both of these parts of the brain will help you prevent any major disorders and diseases that can be life-threatening. Practicing meditation is a common solution for both the gray and the white matter. The other solutions can also be worked on if you meditate regularly.
Neuphony helps you identify the various activities in your brain by tracking them. Through this, you can identify the pattern that will help define your mental health. Becoming aware of your condition and accepting it well is the key to managing and changing the same. Neuphony helps you identify the problem and provides you with meditative and therapeutic solutions. These will help your mind relax and reduce stress, anxiety and depression.