What the heck is your brain made of?

Matthew Dickson
25 min readMay 21, 2024

What is inside your brain?

There are many different areas of your brain (think of this as a house) you have probably heard before, like prefrontal cortex, cerebellum, hippocampus, and amygdala (think of these as the rooms in your house).

These different areas are in charge of different bodily functions, but what does the actual structure of the brain look like? What are these different areas made of? You’ve heard of brain cells and synapses, white matter and gray matter (think of these as the bricks of the house). But it can seem confusing and overwhelming to put it all together.

I decided to put together a list of the “bricks that build the house”, so to speak, to make it easier for you to understand what is inside your skull other than just a lump of jelly.

With modern microscopes we have peered into the brain and discovered a fascinating world. No wonder people in the old days thought mental illness was “all in your head” and to just “snap out of it”. The brain to the naked eye in its jelly-like state doesn’t look like it’s made up as intricately as it is.

I have a mental illness, schizophrenia. Until I started searching for the contents of this article, the common brain terms I’d heard before just swam around in my head (no pun intended) with no real rhyme or reason for how they all fit together.

I am not a brain scientist - just someone with lived experience of mental illness, as well as a civil engineering degree…



Matthew Dickson

Advocate for people with mental illness in developing countries at www.MindAid.ca. Bicycled across Canada twice, books, nature, fitness, learning, dancing!