In this article, I will present you with some interesting facts about the brain. The brain is the control tower of our organism, the organ through which passes an incredible number of messages to and from all parts of our body.
The brain is a remarkably dynamic and adaptive organ that integrates data from all our senses (vision, smell, hearing, touch, taste) and controls our behavior. It is the brain that makes us who we are, as human beings and as people. The brain is made up of over 10 billion cells called neurons (nerve cells) and glial cells (which provide structural and metabolic support). By understanding this, we can also understand why brain disorders can have such a big impact on our lives.
The brain is the headquarters of the central nervous system. Its billions of cells transmit and receive messages from different parts of the body.
The central goal of the brain is to control body actions and reactions in response to other actions. He receives all the sensory information from the body and analyzes it quickly and sends messages to the organs of the body.
Although it represents only 2% of the total weight of the body, it consumes 20% of the energy produced.
There are billions of nerve fiber connections in a single cubic millimeter of our brain. In each connection electrical pulse trains are transmitted, varying in intensity and more than 30 different chemicals are involved. To better understand, if you put all the nerve fibers in a straight line, they would cover a length of 400,000 kilometers.
I – Brief Exploration of the Functions of Human Brain
1. Three Books, Three Parts
The brain is the most powerful organ of the human body. Yet he weighs only about three pounds. Its texture resembles a compact jelly.
It consists of three main parts:
The brain itself fills a very large part of the cranial box. It controls memory, problem-solving, thinking, feeling, and movement.
The cerebellum is located at the back of the head, under the brain. It controls coordination and balance.
The brainstem is located under the brain, in front of the cerebellum. It connects the brain to the spinal cord and controls automatic functions of the body such as breathing, digestion, heart rate, and blood pressure.
2. Irrigation System
The brain is fed by one of the richest blood vessel networks in the human body.
With each heartbeat, the arteries supply the brain with between 20 and 25% of the blood. Billions of brain cells draw about 20% of the oxygen and energy carried by the blood.
And up to 50% during an important reflection effort.
The network of blood vessels includes an addition to arteries, veins, and capillaries.
3. The Cerebral Cortex: “Thinking Wrinkles”
The wrinkled surface of the brain is a specialized outer layer of the brain called the “cortex”. Scientists have “mapped” the cortex by identifying regions strongly related to certain functions.
Specific regions of the cortex:
– Interpret body sensations and visual perceptions, sounds, and smells from the outside.
– Generate thoughts, solve problems, and plan.
– Form memories and store them.
– Control the voluntary movements of the body.
4. Left Brain / Right Brain
The brain is divided into two hemispheres: left and right. Experts are unsure of how the “left brain” and “right-brain” functions may differ, but it has been established that:
The left hemisphere controls the movements on the right side of the body.
The right hemisphere controls the left side of the body.
For most people, the language region is in the left hemisphere.
5. The Forest of Neurons
The real work of the brain takes place in individual cells. An adult brain contains nearly 100 billion nerve cells (neurons) with connected branches in more than 100 trillion points. Scientists refer to this dense network of ramifications as a “forest of neurons”.
The signals that move through the forest of neurons form the basis of memories, thoughts, emotions, and sensations.
Neurons are the main type of cells that destroy Alzheimer’s disease.
6. Cell Signals
The signals that form memories and thoughts move through the individual nerve cell in the form of tiny electrical charges.
The areas of contact between two nerve cells are called synapses. When an electrical charge reaches a synapse, it can trigger tiny pulses of chemicals called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters cross the synapse to carry the message to other cells. Scientists have identified dozens of neurotransmitters.
Alzheimer’s disease disrupts both the way electrical charges move within the cell and the activity of neurotransmitters.
7. The Codification of the Signals
100 billion nerve cells … 100 trillion synapses … dozens of neurotransmitters … It is this “strength of numbers” that provides the brain with its raw material. Over time, accumulated experiences create patterns corresponding to different types and intensities of signals. These patterns of activity explain how our brain codes, at the cell level, our thoughts, our memories, our abilities, and our identity.
Positron emission tomography (PET) shows the normal patterns of activated brain activity when:
– We read words
– We hear words
– We think of words
– We pronounce words
On PET, it can be seen that the activity is more intense in the red zones and the other colors of the rainbow, from yellow to purplish-blue, indicate a gradual decrease in this activity.
Patterns associated with a specific activity evolve throughout our lives, through new encounters and experiences and the acquisition of new skills. Patterns also change when Alzheimer’s disease or a related disorder disrupts the nerve cells and the connections between them.
II – The Nervous System
The nervous system is the communication system of the body. He is responsible for sending, receiving, and treating nerve impulses. All muscles and organs of the body depend on these nerve impulses to function. Three systems work together to fulfill the mission of the nervous system: the central, peripheral, and autonomous nervous systems. This great function of the body relies mainly on the brain and spinal cord.
Among all its components, the brain is the main organ of the nervous system, located inside the cranial box. Without its protective envelope, the hard mother, the brain weighs on average 1.4 kilograms, which represents 97% of the total weight of the central nervous system.
The encephalon is composed of three parts: a large one, the brain (or cerebral hemispheres), a smaller one, the cerebellum, and finally the brainstem, which connects the whole to the spinal cord.
The brain controls and regulates the actions of the body and its reactions.
He constantly receives sensory information and quickly analyzes the data and then responds, controlling actions and bodily functions. The brainstem controls breathing, heart rate, and other autonomic processes. The neocortex is the center of higher-order thinking, learning, and memory. The cerebellum is responsible for the balance of the body, posture, and coordination of movement.
Despite the facts about the brain that is protected by the thickness of the bones of the skull, suspended in the cerebrospinal fluid and isolated from the blood and by the blood-brain barrier, the fragility of the human brain makes it susceptible to many types of damage and diseases. The most common forms of physical damage are injuries to the head, such as a stroke to the head, stroke, poisoning, or a variety of chemicals that may act as neurotoxins. Brain infection is rare because of the barriers that protect it, but it is very serious when it occurs. The most common diseases have a genetic basis, such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and many others.
III – Several Interesting Facts About the Brain
1. The Brain Does Not Feel Pain
Despite the fact that the brain is responsible for treating pain signals in other parts of the body, it cannot feel real pain. Ironically, he is responsible for making us feel the pain in the rest of the body, but he cannot generate it.
2. The Brain Has High Oxygen Needs
Our brain, to function well, needs a lot of oxygen. It alone uses 20% of the oxygen in our body, while it represents only 20% of its weight.
So let’s learn how to breathe, by favoring abdominodiaphragmatic breathing, and avoiding respiratory blockage. Let’s air ourselves as often as possible, at night keeping the window open when the weather allows it.
Walking in the correct position, head straight and out of the shoulders, back straight is a great way to oxygenate our brain and help our memory.
3.) 80% of the Brain Is Water
To function well, the brain is composed of 80 to 85% water. He needs water for neurotransmitters to be able to communicate properly. Water is essential for concentration and mental alertness. A fifth of the blood circulating in the body is used to irrigate the brain.
4. The Brain Starts at Night
When the rest of the body decreases its activity to reach a minimum during sleep, the brain increases its activity, which is even greater than when we are awake. But waking and sleeping activities take place in different parts of the brain.
Sleep allows the brain to clean up accumulated litter during awakening due to continuous neuronal activity.
5. The Human Brain Operates at 15 Watts of Power
An adult brain consumes only between 250 and 300 kcal per day, ie it uses about 15 watts of power, less than the energy released by a light bulb, for a brain of about 1,300-1,400 grams (the weight medium of an adult human brain).
This article on the facts about the brain might interest you: – How to Increase Brain Power?
6. The Brain Changes During Puberty
During adolescence, there are changes in physical appearance and thinking, as the brain structure changes completely. Until this change is not over, the human being is not able to assume the risks of his actions.
The gray matter thickness is maximum at 11 years for girls and 12 years for boys. At these ages, the adolescent brain then has more neurons than it will ever have in adulthood. After that, the rate of neurons decreases and the gray matter specializes. The most used neurons reinforce each other, the others disappear.
7. The Brain Can Store Everything
Technically, the human brain has the storage capacity of all the experiences, everything you see, everything you hear, and even everything you feel. The big problem is whether once stored, the information can be retrieved.
Long-term memory stocks can never be saturated. Our brain can permanently create new connections – this is what scientists call brain plasticity.
Only the capacity of short-term memory is restricted. It can only retain a limited number of elements. This figure varies with individuals and with age.
8. The Information Contained in the Brain Travels at Different Speeds
In the brain, different neuronal connections are activated with different rhythms: neural clocks at different speeds coexist. So-called oscillatory activities evolve so that neurons are more easily excitable every 25 (gamma rhythm), 100 (alpha rhythm), 250 (theta rhythm) milliseconds, or even every second (delta rhythm). This is the reason why sometimes one can instantly access what is stored, while at other times it takes a little more time.
9. A Higher Intelligence Quotient Corresponds to More Dreams
If you’re smarter, you’re dreaming more, but it’s not the only curiosity about intelligence and the brain. A high quotient can successfully fight mental illness.
REM sleep (paradoxical sleep) is the neurophysiological support of dreams; it corresponds to intense cerebral activation.
And of course, there are many more interesting facts about the brain.
This article on the facts about the brain might interest you: – The Creative Brain
IV – Neurotransmitters
In the brain, messages (small blocks of information) are passed from one to another cell by means of electrical and chemical impulses. Chemical means are called neurotransmitters.
Many substances play the role of neurotransmitters in the brain. Some are directly used from the daily diet. They cross the blood-brain barrier and are picked up by neurons.
Neurotransmitters are essential to our well-being because they are the ones that allow the brain to communicate with the rest of the body.
It has been discovered that three of the chemical neurotransmitters are developed by the brain from the foods we consume. These three chemical neurotransmitters are dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.
Dopamine affects muscle movement, tissue growth, the functioning of the immune system. It is involved in the secretion of growth hormones.
Norepinephrine stimulates the release of stored fat and controls the release of hormones that regulate fertility, libido, appetite, and metabolism. It modulates attention, learning and facilitates the response to reward signals: the higher the noradrenergic sensitivity, the more these traits are amplified.
Serotonin plays a major role in blood coagulation, the onset of sleep, sensitivity to migraines. It is used by the brain to make a famous hormone, melatonin.
The brain synthesizes dopamine, noradrenaline, and serotonin from the amino acids: (components of the proteins of the diet). These are chemicals that contain nitrogen and originate proteins; these, in turn, are one of the basic nutrients of cells.
V – The Brain Is Changeable, Adaptable and Above All, It Never Dies
It was believed that neurons were among the few human cells not to renew themselves. In fact, we make them throughout our lives even at advanced ages. The brain is in perpetual construction and is thus the only human organ to escape the effect of time. The new connections that make it possible to have vigorous neurons are also renewed and we now know that they do so thanks to desire, affection, interrogation, action. Conversely, stress, depression, pollution, some diseases, and especially passivity use and destroy them. This may explain why an 80-year-old man has new neurons and a young person has not produced them for a long time.
It’s the plasticity of the brain. If our cortical lobes are specialized (visual, sounds, etc.) the distribution by functional area can change under the pressure of an emergency or an intense motivation. Clearly, a zone can fulfill another function if it needs it. Today, after an injury, we are not only trying to restore the initial function of the brain structure, we are also helping to find in all its possible repertoires, the means of recomposing the same function with other combinations. A breakthrough for neurodegenerative diseases.
An interesting fact about the brain is also that our brain is constantly working at full speed. On the other hand, a tiny part of its activity (the figures vary between 1 and 20%) is a matter of conscience. The rest is dedicated to confirming and reformatting our neural networks. This applies when one sleeps: the brain memorizes, sorts, anticipates, completes, interprets, or invents. Being distracted does not mean putting the brain on the back burner, it can even stimulate it and solve complex problems.
The idea of relational intelligence is confirmed. Through our neurons, we feel each other. For proof, under the scanner, the neuroanatomy of a kiss reveals that two lovers synchronize. The orbitofrontal areas of their prefrontal cortex are resonant with positive effects: lowering of stress, the rise of antibodies. This is true for a simple love affair, or to a lesser extent between parents and children. Conversely, an argument has proven negative effects, and even more so when they are repeated. This may explain for example in children suffering brain atrophy.
VI – Diet and Brain Function
A malnourished brain, poorly irrigated, can cause disorders, become very common in the population today, such as fatigue, depression, loss of intellectual productivity, low memory, etc. The health of the brain depends inter alia on a perfect blood supply allowing it to receive the different nutrients essential for its proper functioning.
When the arteries have narrowing, atherosclerosis, the blood flow decreases in the body, and one of the first organs to suffer is the brain. A healthy brain depends on the nutrients available to it through diet, but also on its ability to receive it through the bloodstream.
The oxidation of the cells is responsible for the degeneration of the brain. The insufficient supply of essential nutrients is another responsibility.
There is a third factor of degeneration, it is the action of certain pollutants, gases, and heavy metals, which attack the integrity of the nerve cells.
The brain has special protection against undesirable or harmful elements, the blood-brain barrier, which acts like a real castle, to protect the integrity of the brain, makes the passage very difficult to infectious agents, harmful elements, and even all types of nutrients. Only essential nutrients manage to pass using specialized proteins as carriers.
An adequate diet for the brain will include quality protein, essential fatty acids, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and trace elements.
Whole grains, most green vegetables, will provide an unparalleled wealth of brain-friendly nutrients, especially minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber.
For optimal functioning of the brain, it is necessary to maintain a perfect balance between two essential fatty acids, Omega-3 and Omega-6. Omega-3s should preferably come from the flesh and oil of oily fish (salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel, herring). While Omega-6s are quite abundant in vegetable fats. Nuts and seeds, especially almonds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, will bring other types of fatty acids.
Antioxidants help prevent free radical damage in the brain and the body in general. Foods that contain the most, per 100 gr. of weight, are prunes, raisins, blackberries, kale, strawberries, raw spinach, raspberries, Brussels sprouts.
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Conclusion on Interesting Facts About the Brain
The brain directs all the functions of the body. This is why taking care of the brain and meeting its needs promotes the health of all other organs and parts of the body. Good hydration, regular rest, physical exercise, and breathing clean air, among other habits, promote good brain function.
In other words, to better maintain your brain, you need:
Constantly cultivate one’s curiosity and seek novelty, avoid sound pollution. To fight against tension, diabetes, cholesterol, and tobacco which are the enemies of neuronal plasticity. Promote antioxidant foods (fruits, vegetables, fish), exercise, calm, sleep, social relations, kindness, laughter, and empathy…
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