Do You Know How Your Brain Works?
News The human brain is the most complex organ in your body, and most of it remains a mystery. To improve your understanding here are some facts on the science behind the brain.
- A human brain weighs about 1.4 kilograms (three pounds) and is mostly made of water.
- The brain and the rest of the nervous system run on electricity, but at low levels. Brain signals involve less than one-tenth the voltage of an ordinary flashlight battery.
- When you smell something, your nose is sensing chemicals in the air. It sends messages to a brain area called the olfactory cortex, which can distinguish between about 20,000 scents.
"On average, half a million neurons form every minute during the first five months in the womb."
- The amygdala makes sure highly emotional moments are “burned into” your memory.
- The hippocampus — a part of the brain that is used to form long-term memories and mental maps — can actually grow with constant use.
- Before a child is born, his or her brain cells multiply rapidly. On average, half a million neurons form every minute during the first five months in the womb.
- After a peak in brain functioning in your 20s, the number of neural connections gradually declines, and over time, your memory may become a bit less reliable.
Doctors can now activate (or deactivate) certain brain regions by surgically inserting a wire into the brain and sending in pulses of electricity with what’s called deep brain stimulation (DBS). More than 80,000 people have already used DBS to treat Parkinson’s disease, and it has also been used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Tips For Maintaining Your Brain Health
- Eat a well-balanced diet. A balanced diet includes a good supply of omega-3 fatty acids from fish (and low amounts of saturated fats) as well as fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. The sum of your diet, rather than individual foods or nutrients, is more important for maintaining brain health.
- Manage your stress. Too much stress makes your brain work less efficiently. Two brain regions are particularly sensitive to stress: the hippocampus, which is responsible for learning and memory, and the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for our ability to multi-task.
- Get enough sleep. Sleep is necessary for the brain to function, and helps you learn new information. In the short-term, sleep deprivation causes memory problems, impaired immune system function, attention deficit, and even hallucinations. Chronic sleep deprivation is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.
- Take your brain for a walk. In addition to being good for your heart, waistline and muscles, exercise is good for your brain. Did you know that people who exercise regularly are 30-40% less likely to develop dementia (like Alzheimer’s disease) and 25% less likely of having a stroke?
- Train your brain. Strengthen your brain by doing regular mental exercises. Benefits of brain training are seen in people of all ages.