Learn About the Nervous System and Brain in Spanish
Whether you want to watch Grey’s Anatomy in Spanish or discuss psychology with a friend from Latin America, knowing the nervous system and parts of the brain in Spanish will come in handy!
Improve Your Spanish Communication Skills!
As a Spanish learner, new vocabulary is a constant process. Keep improving and building your language skills with these key medical words and translations.
Bear in mind that this is a basic vocabulary guide focused on improving Spanish communication skills and is not a medical guide.
What is the Central Nervous System?
We always hear the term central nervous system on TV, in the media, or even the doctor’s office. But what does it actually mean and how does the nervous system function?
The nervous system controls most functions of the body and mind and consists of two major parts: the brain and the spinal cord. The brain is protected by the skull and the spinal cord travels from the back of the brain, down the center of the spine, stopping in the lumbar region of the lower back.
The brain is the computer that programs our thoughts, the interpreter of our external environment, and the origin of control over body movement. Like a central computer, it interprets information from our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin.The spinal cord is the highway for communication between the brain and the body.
The brain and spinal cord are both housed within a protective membrane called the meninges. The central nervous system controls our thoughts, movements, emotions, and desires. It also controls our breathing, heart rate, the release of some hormones, body temperature, and much more.
Central-Nervous System Vocabulary
Brain — el cerebro
The brain in Spanish is called “cerebro” and it is the most complex part of the human body. This three-pound organ is our source of intelligence, interpreter of the senses, initiator of body movement, and controller of behavior.
Spinal Cord — la médula espinal
The spinal cord connects the brain with the rest of the nervous system
Leptomeninges — las eptomenínges
The two innermost layers of tissue that cover the brain and spinal cord. The two layers are called the arachnoid mater and pia mater.
Dura mater — la duramadre
The dura mater is a thick membrane made of dense connective tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord to form a protective shield. It is the outermost of the three layers of membrane called the meninges that protect the central nervous system.
Parts of the Brain in Spanish and Their Function
You probably already know how to say brain in Spanish (cerebro), but there are lots of other parts that make up this important organ!
Take a look at the list below and the labeled diagram for a deeper understanding of the parts of the brain in Spanish!
Cerebrum — el cerebro
The cerebrum (front of brain) is composed of the right and left hemispheres, which are joined by the corpus callosum. Functions of the cerebrum include: initiation of movement, coordination of movement, temperature, touch, vision, hearing, judgment, reasoning, problem solving, emotions, and learning.
Brainstem — el bulbo raquídeo
The brainstem (middle of brain) includes the midbrain, the pons, and the medulla. Functions of this area include: movement of the eyes and mouth, relaying sensory messages (such as hot, pain, and loud), respirations, consciousness, cardiac function, involuntary muscle movements, sneezing, coughing, vomiting, and swallowing.
Midbrain — el cerebro medio
The midbrain helps control eye movement and processes visual and auditory information.
Pons — el puente de Varolio
This is the largest part of the brain stem. It’s located below the midbrain. It’s a group of nerves that help connect different parts of the brain. The pons also contains the start of some of the cranial nerves. These nerves are involved in facial movements and transmitting sensory information.
Medulla oblongata — el bulbo raquídeo
The medulla oblongata is the lowest part of the brain. It acts as the control center for the function of the heart and lungs. It helps regulate many important functions, including breathing, sneezing, and swallowing.
Cranium — el cráneo
The bones that form the head. The cranium is made up of cranial bones (bones that surround and protect the brain) and facial bones (bones that form the eye sockets, nose, cheeks, jaw, and other parts of the face). An opening at the base of the cranium is where the spinal cord connects to the brain. Also called skull.
Cortex — el córtex
The surface of the cerebrum is called the cortex. It has a folded appearance with hills and valleys. The cortex contains 16 billion neurons (the cerebellum has 70 billion = 86 billion total) that are arranged in specific layers. The nerve cell bodies color the cortex grey-brown giving it its name – gray matter (Fig. 4). Beneath the cortex are long nerve fibers (axons) that connect brain areas to each other — called white matter.
Cerebellum — el cerebelo
The cerebellum (back of brain) is located at the back of the head. Its function is to coordinate voluntary muscle movements and to maintain posture, balance, and equilibrium.
Broca area — la área de Broca
lies in the left frontal lobe (Fig 3). If this area is damaged, one may have difficulty moving the tongue or facial muscles to produce the sounds of speech. The person can still read and understand spoken language but has difficulty in speaking and writing (i.e. forming letters and words, doesn’t write within lines) – called Broca’s aphasia.
Wernicke’s area — la área de Wernicke
lies in the left temporal lobe (Fig 3). Damage to this area causes Wernicke’s aphasia. The individual may speak in long sentences that have no meaning, add unnecessary words, and even create new words. They can make speech sounds, however they have difficulty understanding speech and are therefore unaware of their mistakes.
Parietal lobe — el lóbulo parietal
The parietal lobe is responsible to manage sensation, handwriting, and body position. It interprets sensory information, such as temperature and touch, and is responsible for processing sensory information from various parts of the body.
Medulla — la médula
The lowest part of the brainstem, the medulla is the most vital part of the entire brain and contains important control centers for the heart and lungs.
Parietal lobe — el lóbulo parietal
The middle part of the brain, the parietal lobe helps a person to identify objects and understand spatial relationships (where one’s body is compared to objects around the person). The parietal lobe is also involved in interpreting pain and touch in the body.
Frontal lobe — el lóbulo frontal
The largest section of the brain located in the front of the head, the frontal lobe is involved in personality characteristics and movement. Recognition of smell usually involves parts of the frontal lobe.
Occipital lobe — el lóbulo occipital
The occipital lobe is the back part of the brain that is involved with vision.
Temporal lobe — el lóbulo temporal
The sides of the brain, these temporal lobes are involved in short-term memory, speech, musical rhythm, and some degree of smell recognition.
Neuron — la neurona
Neurons are the fundamental units of the brain and nervous system, the cells responsible for receiving sensory input from the external world, for sending motor commands to our muscles, and for transforming and relaying the electrical signals at every step in between
Axon — el axón
Axon, also called nerve fibre, is the portion of a neuron that carries nerve impulses away from the cell body.
Dendrite — la dendrita
Dendrites are projections of a neuron that receive signals or information from other neurons.
Neurotransmitter — el neurotransmisor
Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that transmit a signal from a neuron across the synapse to a target cell, which can be a different neuron, muscle cell, or gland cell. Neurotransmitters are chemical substances made by the neuron specifically to transmit a message.
Synapse — el sinapsis
The synapse is a small pocket of space between two cells where they pass messages to communicate.
Glia — la glía
Glia are non-neuronal cells (aka not nerves) of the brain and nervous system. There are a variety of subtypes of glial cells, including astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, and microglia, each of which is specialised for a particular function.
Myelin — la mielina
Myelin is an insulating layer, or sheath that forms around nerves, including those in the brain and spinal cord. This myelin sheath allows electrical impulses to transmit quickly and efficiently along the nerve cells.
Neurotransmitter — el neurotransmisor
Chemical signals that jump over the synapse between neurons.
Nervous System Related Vocabulary
- Human nervous system — el sistema nervioso humano
- Autonomic nervous system — el sistema nervioso autónomo
- Sympathetic nervous system — el sistema nervioso simpático
- Central nervous system — el sistema nervioso central
- Peripheral nervous system — el sistema nervioso periférico
Common Nervous System Disorders
The nervous system is incredibly important for a body’s proper health and function. However, sometimes problems occur and these can create nervous system disorders or diseases like the ones listed below.
Brain aneurysm — El aneurisma cerebral
A brain aneurysm is a bulge or ballooning in a blood vessel in the brain. A brain aneurysm can leak or rupture, causing bleeding into the brain
Brain Stroke — El accidente cerebrovascular
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of your brain is interrupted or reduced, preventing brain tissue from getting oxygen and nutrients. Brain cells begin to die in minutes. A stroke is a medical emergency, and prompt treatment is crucial.
Alzheimer’s disease — La enfermedad de Alzheimer
Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior. Symptoms generally develop slowly and get worse over time, until they are so severe that they interfere with everyday tasks.
Scientists believe that Alzheimer’s disease prevents parts of cell factories from working properly. They are not sure where the problem starts. But just like in a real factory, breakdowns and jams in one system cause problems in other areas. As the damage spreads, cells lose their ability to work.
Parkinson’s disease — La enfermedad de Parkinson
Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that leads to shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with walking, balance, and coordination. Parkinson’s symptoms usually begin gradually and get worse over time. As the disease progresses, people may have difficulty walking and talking.
Multiple sclerosis — La Esclerosis Múltiple
Multiple sclerosis is a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord. The immune system attacks the protective sheath that covers nerve fibers and causes communication problems between your brain and the rest of your body. Eventually, the disease can cause permanent damage or deterioration of the nerves.
Talk About the Nervous System and Brain in Spanish with a Free Class!
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