Briefly describe the structure of the following: (a) Brain (b) Eye (c) Ear | Learn NCERT solution | Education portal Class 11 Biology | Study online Unit-21 Neural Control and Coordination

Q.1:- Briefly describe the structure of the following:

(a) Brain (b) Eye (c) Ear




(a) Structure of Brain

The human brain is well protected by the skull. Inside the skull, the brain is covered by cranial meninges consisting of an outer layer called dura mater, a very thin middle layer called arachnoid and an inner layer (which is in contact with the brain tissue) called pia mater. The brain can be divided into three major parts:

(i) Forebrain,

(ii) Midbrain, and

(iii) Hindbrain


The forebrain consists of cerebrum, thalamus and hypothalamus. Cerebrum forms the major part of the human brain. A deep cleft divides the cerebrum longitudinally into two halves, which are termed as the left and right cerebral hemispheres. The hemispheres are connected by a tract of nerve fibres called corpus callosum.

The cerebral cortex contains motor areas, sensory areas and large regions that are neither clearly sensory nor motor in function. These regions called as the association areas are responsible for complex functions like intersensory associations, memory and communication.

The cerebrum wraps around a structure called thalamus, which is a major coordinating centre for sensory and motor signaling. Another very important part of the brain called hypothalamus lies at the base of the thalamus. The hypothalamus contains a number of centres which control body temperature, urge for eating and drinking. It also contains several groups of neurosecretory cells, which secrete hormones called hypothalamic hormones.

The inner parts of cerebral hemispheres and a group of associated deep structures like amygdala, hippocampus, etc., form a complex structure called the limbic lobe or limbic system. Along with the hypothalamus, it is involved in the regulation of sexual behaviour, expression of emotional reactions (e.g., excitement, pleasure, rage and fear), and motivation.


The midbrain is located between the thalamus/hypothalamus of the forebrain and pons of the hindbrain. A canal called the cerebral aqueduct passess through the midbrain. The dorsal portion of the midbrain consists mainly of four round swellings (lobes) called corpora quadrigemina. Midbrain and hindbrain form the brain stem.


The hindbrain comprises pons, cerebellum and medulla (also called the medulla oblongata). Pons consists of fibre tracts that interconnect different regions of the brain. Cerebellum has very convoluted surface in order to provide the additional space for many more neurons. The medulla of the brain is connected to the spinal cord. The medulla contains centres which control respiration, cardiovascular reflexes and gastric secretions.

(b) Structure of Eye

The adult human eye ball is nearly a spherical structure. The wall of the eye ball is composed of three layers.

The external layer is composed of a dense connective tissue and is called the sclera. The anterior portion of this layer is called the cornea.

The middle layer, choroid, contains many blood vessels and looks bluish in colour. The choroid layer is thin over the posterior two-thirds of the eye ball, but it becomes thick in the anterior part to form the ciliary body.

The ciliary body itself continues forward to form a pigmented and opaque structure called the iris which is the visible coloured portion of the eye.

The eye ball contains a transparent crystalline lens which is held in place by ligaments attached to the ciliary body. In front of the lens, the aperture surrounded by the iris is called the pupil. The diameter of the pupil is regulated by the muscle fibres of iris.

The inner layer is the retina and it contains three layers of cells – from inside to outside – ganglion cells, bipolar cells and photoreceptor cells.

There are two types of photoreceptor cells, namely, rods and cones. These cells contain the light-sensitive proteins called the photopigments. The daylight (photopic) vision and colour vision are functions of cones and the twilight (scotopic) vision is the function of the rods. The rods contain a purplish-red protein called the rhodopsin or visual purple, which contains a derivative of Vitamin A.

In the human eye, there are three types of cones which possess their own characteristic photopigments that respond to red, green and blue lights. The sensations of different colours are produced by various combinations of these cones and their photopigments. When these cones are stimulated equally, a sensation of white light is produced.

The optic nerves leave the eye and the retinal blood vessels enter it at a point medial to and slightly above the posterior pole of the eye ball. Photoreceptor cells are not present in that region and hence it is called he blind spot. At the posterior pole of the eye lateral to the blind spot, here is a yellowish pigmented spot called macula lutea with a central pit called the fovea. The fovea is a thinned-out portion of the retina where only the cones are densely packed. It is the point where the visual acuity (resolution) is the greatest.

The space between the cornea and the lens is called the aqueous chamber and contains a thin watery fluid called aqueous humor. The pace between the lens and the retina is called the vitreous chamber and is filled with a transparent gel called vitreous humor.

(c) Structure of Ear

Anatomically, the ear can be divided into three major sections called the outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear.

Outer Ear: The outer ear consists of the pinna and external auditory meatus (canal). The pinna collects the vibrations in the air which produce sound. The external auditory meatus leads inwards and extends up to the tympanic membrane (the ear drum). There are very fine hairs and wax-secreting sebaceous glands in the skin of the pinna and the meatus. The tympanic membrane is composed of connective tissues covered with skin outside and with mucus membrane inside.

Middle Ear: The middle ear contains three ossicles called malleus, incus and stapes which are attached to one another in a chain-like fashion.

The malleus is attached to the tympanic membrane and the stapes is attached to the oval window of the cochlea. The ear ossicles increase the efficiency of transmission of sound waves to the inner ear.

An Eustachian tube connects the middle ear cavity with the pharynx. The Eustachian tube helps in equalising the pressures on either sides of the ear drum.

Inner Ear: The fluid-filled inner ear called labyrinth consists of two parts, the bony and the membranous labyrinths. The bony labyrinth is a series of channels. Inside these channels lies the membranous labyrinth, which is surrounded by a fluid called perilymph. The membranous labyrinth is filled with a fluid called endolymph. The coiled portion of the labyrinth is called cochlea.

The membranes constituting cochlea, the reissner’s and basilar, divide the surounding perilymph filled bony labyrinth into an upper scala vestibuli and a lower scala tympani. The space within cochlea called scala media is filled with endolymph. At the base of the cochlea, the scala vestibuli ends at the oval window, while the scala tympani terminates at the round window which opens to the middle ear.


The organ of corti is a structure located on the basilar membrane which contains hair cells that act as auditory receptors. The hair cells are present in rows on the internal side of the organ of corti. The basal end of the hair cell is in close contact with the afferent nerve fibres. A large number of processes called stereo cilia are projected from the apical part of each hair cell. Above the rows of the hair cells is a thin elastic membrane called tectorial membrane.

The inner ear also contains a complex system called vestibular apparatus, located above the cochlea. The vestibular apparatus is composed of three semi-circular canals and the otolith organ consisting of the saccule and utricle. Each semi-circular canal lies in a different plane at right angles to each other. The membranous canals are suspended in the perilymph of the bony canals. The base of canals is swollen and is called ampulla, which contains a projecting ridge called crista ampullaris which has hair cells. The saccule and utricle contain a projecting ridge called macula. The crista and macula are the specific receptors of the vestibular apparatus responsible for maintenance of balance of the body and posture.