Brainy Facts and Quirks

YOUR BRAIN IS FAT AND WET

The weight of your brain is about 3 pounds and is made up of 75% water. At birth, the brain is almost the same size as an adult brain and it already contains most of the brain cells that it will have for a whole lifetime of use. It is also the fattest organ in the body.

No pain, no gain.  Except, that is, when it comes to the brain. There are no pain receptors in your brain, so your brain can feel no pain. Your brain uses 20 percent of the total oxygen in your body.

If your brain loses blood for 8 to 10 seconds, you will lose consciousness. The brain can live for 4 to 6 minutes without oxygen, and then it begins to die. No oxygen for 5 to 10 minutes will result in permanent brain damage. While awake, your brain generates between 10 and 23 watts of power — or enough energy to power a light bulb. A study of 1 million students in New York showed that students who ate lunches that did not include artificial flavors, preservatives, and dyes did 14 percent better on IQ tests than students who ate lunches with these additives.

Who’s on first? Touch.  The first sense to developed while in utero is the sense of touch. The lips and cheeks can experience touch at about 8 weeks and the rest of the body around 12 weeks.

A TICKLE OR A SCRATCH? 

You can’t tickle yourself because your brain distinguishes between unexpected external touch and your own touch.

DOWN MEMORY LANE

Every time you recall a memory or have a new thought, you are creating a new connection in your brain. Memories triggered by scent have a stronger emotional connection, and therefore appear more intense than other memory triggers. While you sleep at night, your brain consolidates all your memories from the day. Lack of sleep may actually interfere with your ability to create new memories. All-Nighters are not being recommended for college students.

DREAMING THE NIGHT AWAY

Most people dream about 1-2 hours a night and have an average of 4-7 dreams each night. Studies show that brain waves are more active while dreaming than when you are awake. Some people (about 12 percent) dream only in black and white while others dream in color. While you sleep, your body produces a hormone that prevents you from acting out your dreams, leaving you virtually paralyzed.

LEFT VS. RIGHT: IT TAKES TWO TO TANGO 

The left side of the brain is analytic, linear, serial-processing. It sees all the trees in the forest, and inspects each and every one. The right brain is synthetic, simultaneous, parallel-processing. It sees the whole forest – the shape and the texture all at once. Language and math are both linear left brain skills. But complex problem-solving sometimes draw on both sides of the brain. For example, Einstein’s flash of insight that led to his theory of relativity occurred as he observed the moving hands of the town-hall clock through the window of the moving train as he was on his way to work. The time-space insight was right-brained; the subsequent translation of the insight into numbers was left-brained.

ALL THE BRAINS

There are two emotional brains: the oldest is the Limbic System which reacts to emotion through action. The second part of the emotional brain, lying in the Cingulated Gyrus, is newer, and evolved alongside the brain’s language and vocal areas. This newer-evolved Limbic System provides ways to modulate emotion through expression in language. The ability to think arises from the newest part of the brain – the Neo-Cortex. Thus, the edict of psychoanalysts to “put all your thoughts and feelings into words” provides stimulation of both emotional Limbic Brain as well as the Neo-Cortex – making it a full brain therapy.

MEN WIN, HANDS DOWN

The older Limbic Brain – the one that leads to action – is more active in men than in women. The odds of a murder being committed by a man is 40,000:1; 10 percent of total murders in the U.S. are committed by women. But approximately 17 percent of all serial homicides in the U.S. are committed by women. Therefore, relative to men, women represent a larger percentage of serial murders than all other homicide cases in the U.S. But men are still winning, hand-down, on who commits the most murders. This difference is not just due to the difference in physical strength (any woman can pull a trigger, thus equalizing the strength advantage of men). Men show anger in action; women are more verbal. Men fight; women talk.

BRAIN TOGETHERNESS

When you feel like you really connect with someone, you say you are on the “same wavelength.” This is not just a feeling; it’s an actual ‘brain-togetherness’ phenomenon. When brain cells want to connect with each other, they synchronize their activity. As researcher Laura Colgin explains, cells literally tune into each other’s wavelength.

Colgin found a radio-like system inside the brain. The lower frequencies are used to transmit memories of past experiences, and the higher frequencies are used to convey what is happening where you are right now. If you think of the example of the jammed radio, the way to hear what you want out of the messy signals would be to listen really hard for the latest news while trying to filter out the unwanted music. The hippocampus does this efficiently. It simply tunes in to the right frequency to get the station it wants. As the cells tune into the station they’re after, they are actually able to filter out other stations at the same time, because its signal is being transmitted on a different frequency.

ALL THE EMOTIONS EQUAL 6

Six emotions are seen on the human face, and this is a world-wide, cross-cultural phenomenon. They are: anger, fear, sadness, disgust, surprise and happiness. Notice the imbalance? There are five negative emotions and only one positive one. It’s an evolutionary edict: survival is more dependent on being able to experience and manifest negative emotions.

SPEAKING OF FEELING GOOD

If you stimulate your brain with cognitive challenges, you will raise your dopamine levels. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that makes you feel good by giving you a rewarding sense of satisfaction. It’s the same stimulus-reward system that is activated by narcotics. So – let’s just say that doing Brainercizing makes you feel as good as getting doped up, but without the side effects of toxicity and addiction.

WHAT MAKES GIRLS HAPPY MAKES BOYS MISERABLE

Boys and girls differ in the way they play and learn. Girls like and do better in subjects like English, writing and foreign languages. Boys do better in math and spatial relations. Boys need to apply physical motor skills to learning and playing, while girls don’t have this need. Many brain researchers recommend separating genders for math and language skills in primary and middle school. Observe any playground for these ages: the boys and girls separate naturally. They don’t need to be told by experts what they want.

HERE’S A TRICK FOR YOUR CHECKBOOK AND TAXES 

Look to the right. Looking to the right stimulates left-brain math skills and makes mathematical work flow easier.

DUH? WE KNEW THAT ALREADY

Language skills improve with age; math skills decline.

Young brain, old brain: downhill at same rate for both

Old brains don’t decline more rapidly than Young Brains. They just show it more. Brain decline begins in the 20’s and continues at the same pace across the life-span of the individual. Generally the cumulative effect of brain aging and memory loss begins to show up in the 60’s of an individual – the so-called “senior moments.”

ADHD IS MORE OF AN  ‘Intention” DISORDER THAN AN “Attention” DISORDER

The problem with the ADHD brain has to do with a faulty output function, as opposed to input. The child’s brain can’t filter out random vs. important stimuli, and so it wants to act on all stimuli that are impinging on its field of awareness. An important part of the function of the neo-cortex (the new brain) is to be able to say ‘no’ to impulses that interfere with a desired goal. This inhibitory system is deficient in ADHD. The problem is not lack of attention. In fact, it’s the opposite: there is too much attention, but not enough intention. Since the brain can’t shut off impulses, intake, learning and goals are not attained.

WHAT NEWBORN BABIES AND COMATOSE PATIENTS HAVE IN COMMON

Newborn babies, neurologically inefficient individuals, some elderly people, and comatose patients all have something in common: they don’t hear or see too well; their senses do not function in a highly differentiated manner. Individuals who are in each of those categories perceive the world and others as though looking through a veil; they listen to others as though through a fog. Individuals who are neurologically organized, to the contrary, see acutely and hear keenly. We don’t mean 20-20 vision, nor do we mean hearing at a normal decibel level; rather, we mean that these people have a depth of understanding, full comprehension, combined with clear perception, resulting in an integration of the various components that comprise the individual self.

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