Top 10 Interesting Facts About the Human BrainSuggested by SMS
It’s been likened to a powerful super computer. Famous brains have been cryogenically frozen, in the hopes that one day; the most famous minds of our time will be resurrected once more.
Most of us take our brains for granted, never thinking about the amazing organ, which, even more than our hearts, is so critical to our survival. Think about it. Without your brain processing information, you would never know what you’re hearing, seeing, smelling, or feeling. You would never dream, have no reasoning power, or have any memory of anything that happens.
Of course, without the brain, or with a brain of a lesser capacity, its doubtful humans would ever have clawed their way to the top of the food chain. We’d still be living in fear, somewhere on the plains of what, admittedly, would probably be an unspoiled world.
We’d be incapable of most of the feats that have so stirred pride, and shame, among us. No great cities would exist, nor would we spend years growing our knowledge before finally venturing out into the working world, bent on making our mark. We would never have developed our appetite for knowledge, or entertainment, and, the world as we know it, simply would not exist.
However, quite aside from the great things the power of our minds have helped us achieve, the human brain is, in itself, a fascinating organ, and here are our top ten interesting facts about this mighty biological computer.
10. It Has a Storage Capacity In the Terabytes
Anyone who has a computer will know what a gigabyte is. You might not know what a terabyte is though. A terabyte is a storage capacity that is a little over a thousand gigabytes.
Scientists have discovered that the human brain has a storage capacity of between three and one thousand terabytes, depending on the individual. Then consider that Britain’s National Archives, which store nine hundred years of information for an entire country, takes up only around seventy terabytes. That means that you are probably entirely capable of storing that entire body of information in your brain, with room to spare.
It’s also been said that your brain can hold over five times the amount of information in the Encyclopedia Britannica, or just about any other encyclopedia out there. What that means is that your capacity for learning, and retaining information, far outstrips any computer currently out there, or which is likely to be in existence any time soon.
With such an awesome storage capacity, everyone has the ability to learn, and remember, all the things that we need to know to survive, and a whole lot more besides.
9. Your Brain Operates on Current
Yup. Just like that computer, your brain uses electrical power, generated in your body, to operate.
In fact, even when we are asleep, the electrical energy generated by your brain is about comparable to that used by a 10 Watt light bulb. So, when you see those pictures in cartoons of people having ideas, with light bulbs over their heads, it’s not merely fantasy. You are actually using that much power, if not a little more, to have that brilliant thought.
Of course, because the brain functions on electricity, that could explain why certain devices, like cell phones, and power lines, can interfere with that activity in the long term, and lead to damage. So, take care which electrical appliances you use, and limit their impact on your own personal super computer.
8. Nerve Impulses Travel As Fast As Racecars
You’ve probably never wondered why, when you experience a tactile sensation, whether it be pain, heat, cold or anything else, in an extremity like your toe, that’s far away from your brain, you experience it instantaneously.
The reason for this is that your brain, and central nervous system, sends messages at the very efficient, and fast, rate of around one hundred and seventy miles per hour. This means that while there is a split second delay in your experience of that sensation, it’s not much, and your nerves, and brain, send and receive signals at the same speed as many luxury sports cars drive!
Consider the number of messages rushing around your body at that speed right now. Isn’t it amazing to thing that those little electrical impulses are what lets us experience the world around us?
Of course, it’s not only the impulse, but the response that’s important – think about it – your brain receives the message that you are experiencing pain, and, virtually instantaneously, you react – jerking away from the source of the pain.
7. Your Brain Uses 20% of The Oxygen You Breathe
It’s amazing to think that while our brain makes up only about two percent of our body mass, it needs around twenty percent of the oxygen we breathe in order to keep functioning.
It’s because of this that we die so easily when we are deprived of oxygen. Without the brain functioning, all those little messages that race around our bodies all day, every day, won’t reach their destinations. This means the organs and cells of your body will shut down very soon after you’ve been deprived of oxygen, even if only for a few minutes.
Again, the parallels with computers are there: if your laptop runs low on battery power, it will go into standby mode. Just like the brain first enters a comatose state. If power (or oxygen) remains scarce, the computer (and your brain) shut down. That’s when we are brain dead.
6. Higher IQ = More Dreams
It’s a proven fact that the higher your IQ (Intelligence Quotient) the more you dream. Scientists studying the phenomenon of dreams have discovered that while everyone dreams, the frequency of dreams is notably higher in those of above average intelligence.
Of course, if you never seem to dream, don’t take that as a sign of a lack of intelligence. Research has also shown that in many instances, your dreams last only a few seconds, hardly long enough to even register. Then again, most of us don’t remember any of our dreams, and it’s usually only for a few fleeting seconds, when we have been awoken in the middle of a dream, that we even remember them at all!
Which is why, if you decide to explore the meaning of your dreams, you’re told to keep a pen and paper right next to your bed, so that you can write down what you dream as you wake up. Leave it a few moments, and most of the ordinary dreams we have will disappear like mist.
While on the topic of dreams too, no one knows exactly why we dream what we do, or how dreams work, but it’s been thought that they are your subconscious mind’s way of communicating with the lucid or conscious part of the brain.
5. Your Brain Is More Active at Night
Strange as it may seem, your brain actually shows more activity at night than during the day.
Despite all the moving around, thinking, and complex calculations you do every day, your brain actually shows more activity at night than it does during the day. In fact, when you shut down at night, to go to sleep, your brain wakes up, and starts doing it’s thing.
Of course, we still don’t quite know what it’s thing is, since scientists are still puzzled as to exactly what it is that your brain works so hard at every night, but it’s certainly got something to do with all those dreams you’re dreaming.
So, it stands to reason, that if you want to give your brain a workout, you should go to sleep, and it also explains why getting enough sleep is so important to staying mentally sharp.
4. Not All Neurons are Created Equal
While it’s true that most of the information in your body is whizzing about at breakneck speed most of the time, there are some types of neurons that take their time to transport information back and forth.
Not only do different neurons process different types of information, and in different ways, but, in fact, some types of neurons transport information as slowly as half a meter per second, or 1.8 kilometers per hour, while others can reach the unheard of velocities of up to one hundred and twenty meters per second or up to four hundred and thirty two kilometers per hour.
It all depends on the type of neuron, and the type of information being carried, how fast it’s transmitted around your body, and to your brain.
3. Neurons Keep Growing
For many years, scientists and researchers thought that neurons, the brain, and your central nervous system, cannot regenerate, or grow. Basically, the concept was that we are stuck with what we’ve got.
That’s all changed though, and although they have discovered that the brain and it’s complex network of neurons does not behave in quite the same way as the other tissues in the body, they can, and do, regenerate.
We’re still not quite sure how to use this regeneration to treat disease and disorders of the brain and nervous system though, and it does mean that the fields of neural study are more complex than they were formerly thought to be.
What this does mean is that even though brain or nerve damage is still a very bad thing, there is, potentially, a remedy for this type of damage, and, with enough research, and in time, we should be able to cure most, if not all types of brain and nervous system damage.
2. Your Brain is 80% Water
Just as we need oxygen to keep our brain’s complex electrical processes going, we need water to keep our own personal super computers in good working order.
Have you ever experienced a headache, only to discover that an aspirin, and a glass of water, does the trick? There’s a good chance it was not the aspirin, but the water, that did that.
Our brains, far from being the solid, stiff grey mass we see in movies and on TV medical shows, is actually a squishy, pinkish, jelly like organ, that has many blood vessels and is made up of around eighty percent water. It’s only after the brain is removed, and starts to dry out, that it begins to become the solid mass we’re more familiar with.
When the brain and the tissues around it becomes dehydrated, and the membranes around it begin to chafe, causing inflammation. We experience that as pain, which explains your headache. That also explains the splitting headache that so often accompanies a hangover – alcohol is a diuretic, which causes dehydration, so it takes water away from your whole body, including your brain.
So, when your mother told you to drink eight glasses of water every day, she wasn’t joking – you don’t only need it for your body, but for your brain too.
1. Your Brain Does Not Feel Pain
Your brain processes every sensation, including pain, that you experience every day, but did you know that the brain itself has no pain receptors? This means that the actual brain tissue, or grey matter as we like to call it, cannot experience pain.
Of course, there are lots of tissues and membranes, as well as bone and other types of tissue that surround your brain, so if you bump your head, or experience any other sort of injury, you will most certainly still feel it!
It is also these tissues, when dehydrated, which can cause the dreaded “headache” although many other factors, including tension or even bad posture, can cause you to have a headache.
So, while you could potentially damage your brain without even being aware of it, the tissues, bone and membrane’s that surround your brain do the job of alerting it to danger. Just another way nature has been brilliant in protecting you!