2-Minute Neuroscience: Brain tumors

  • Published on:  9/20/2018
  • A brain tumor is an abnormal growth of cells in the brain. In this video, I discuss benign and malignant tumors, general symptoms of brain tumors, and a few examples of some of the more common types of brain tumors.


    Welcome to 2 minute neuroscience, where I explain neuroscience topics in 2 minutes or less. In this installment I will discuss brain tumors.

    A brain tumor is an abnormal growth of cells that occurs in the brain. Brain tumors, like other tumors, can be benign or malignant. Malignant tumors grow much more rapidly than benign tumors, and frequently spread into surrounding brain tissue, whereas benign tumors tend to grow slowly and do not typically spread. Only malignant tumors are considered cancerous, but a benign brain tumor can still be problematic as its growth can impact neighboring brain tissue. If a brain tumor begins in the brain, it’s called a primary brain tumor. If it spreads to the brain from some other location, it’s known as a secondary brain tumor.

    The symptoms of brain tumors vary depending on what part of the brain is impacted and thus from case to case, but some common symptoms include headache, nausea and vomiting, sensory disturbances like blurred vision, loss of balance, confusion, changes in personality, and seizures.There are over 120 different types of brain tumors, so I’ll only discuss a few of the more common types here.

    Gliomas are a category of brain tumors that begin in glial cells. The most common glioma is astrocytoma, which arises from the glial cells called astrocytes. One example of an astrocytoma is low-grade astrocytoma, which indicates a slow-growing tumor that is usually benign. Another example, however, is glioblastoma multiforme, which is a highly malignant tumor that grows rapidly and spreads.

    Meningiomas are the most common primary brain tumor. Meningiomas form in the meninges, and are usually benign.

    Medulloblastoma is the most common type of malignant tumor in children. Medulloblastomas typically begin near the fourth ventricle, between the brainstem and the cerebellum.


    Stayner CJ, Lopez RM, Tuzzolino KM. Brain tumors. In Umphred DA, Burton GU, Lazaro RT, Roller ML, eds. Umphred's Neurological Rehabilitation. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Inc.