The human brain is the most complex of any animal, yet it is 75-80% water. In this waterworld, thinking is done by the activity of electricity and chemicals. It is a mass of nervous tissue, regulating physical and mental activity. And if you could harness the power of your brain, it could effectively supply a 10 watt light bulb. The human brain is an enigma of science that never ceases to offer some surprising facts.
What does the brain look and feel like?
The brain looks pink. The color is created by the blood flowing through it. It has the wrinkly texture of a ripe avocado.
What and where is the brain?
1. The brain is the control centre of the central nervous system at the upper end of the body. It co-ordinates and decodes all body functions. It absorbs about 20% of physical energy yet only occupies about 2% of body weight. The left side of the brain controls the right side of the body and vice-versa. Essential oil of jasmine or peppermint can activate mental alertness but toxins can contribute to memory loss over time. Regular, deliberate use of the brain to memorise, analyse and evaluate is known to keep the brain "tuned in" and healthy. Scents of lavender are well-known for helping the brain to relax and sleep.
2. The brain has a team of players:
(a) The cerebrum is the largest part of the brain and making up 85% of the brain's weight, is the memory storage area, the thinking area and the controller of voluntary muscles.
(b) The cerebellum is at the back of the brain, controlling balance and co-ordination.
(c) The brain stem is beneath the cerebrum but in front of the cerebellum. It is small, but acts as the control centre for breathing, digesting food and blood circulation. This area connects with the spinal cord and monitors involuntary muscles.
(d) The tiny pituitary gland is no bigger than a pea, but it controls growth and releases hormones.
(e) The hypothalamus regulates body temperature, causing the body to sweat or shiver in extreme conditions. These reactions are the brain's attempts to keep the body in balance.
Interesting human brain facts
1. A baby's brain grows 3 times its original size in the first year. At this time, the brain weighed about 350-400grammes holding all the brain cells for a lifetime. It is the one part of the body that reaches adult size early in life. At about 18 years of age, the brain stops growing.
2. The human brain is about 1300-1400g, "smaller than an elephant's brain (6000g) but bigger than a monkey's brain (95g)! A dog's brain weighs about 72g and a cat's brain weighs about 30g." www.thethinkingbusiness.com The human brain is not much bigger than 2 fists.
3. On average, the male brain is .2kg bigger than the female brain.
4. The loss of blood supply to the brain will create unconsciousness in 8-10 seconds.
5. "Cholesterol makes up 15% of the brain by dry weight." and "From ages between the age of 40 to 50, there is an approximately 2% decrease in overall brain weight." www.librarythinkquest.org
6. Glucose is the prime energy source for the brain. Energy requirements increase as the complexity of brain activity increases e.g. studying.
7. "Albert Einstein's brain differed to normal men's brain in that his brain had more glial cells per neuron that might indicate that neurons in Einstein's brain had an increased "metabolic need"- they needed and used more energy. Einstein's brain weighed only 1,230 grams, which is less than the average adult male brain (about 1,400 grams)." www.hypertextbook.com
8. "The storage capacity of the human brain exceeds 4 terabytes." www.geocities.com A terabyte is a measure of computer storage capacity; 1 terabyte = 1,000 gigabytes.
9. Computers only have a fraction of the processing power of the human brain. www.marshallbrain.blospot.com comments "the human brain has about 100 billion neurons. The most powerful personal computers today have about 0.4 billion transistors in the CPU.
10. "The brain is the most complex machine in the universe it has over 100 000 000 000 nerve cells each with up to 150 000 connections." www.health24.com One brain cell connects to 25,000 other cells.
Perhaps the most amazing fact about the human brain is its capacity to repair and regrow tissue. The human brain is indeed the most precious machine we own. And we are still discovering just what it can do.