The human brain is not only the soft squishy thing between your ears. The human brain is the epitome of organic processors, that we are yet to scratch the surface of its true power and potential. Check out the 10 most interesting facts about the human brain.
1. The Brain Feels No Pain.
A nociceptor is a sensory neuron (nerve cell) that responds to potentially damaging stimuli by sending signals to the spinal cord and brain. This process, called nociception, usually causes the perception of pain.
The human brain has no pain receptors. This is why surgeons can perform brain surgery on a patient why they are still awake. This helps them ensure that the delicate procedure does not damage any vision or motor control functions. So then why do we feel pain? This is because a nociceptor, a sensory receptor, sends signals to the spinal cord and brain alerting us to danger.
2. 100,000 Miles of Blood Vessels in the Brain.
Cerebral circulation is the movement of blood through the network of blood vessels supplying the brain. The rate of the cerebral blood flow in the adult, is typically 750 ml per minute.
There are also a hundred billion neurons that comprise the brain (as many as in the entire galaxy) all within a normal sized human brain. Using about 17% of your body’s energy and 20% of its oxygen, while only containing 2% of its mass, the brain produces between 10-23 watts of power when awake, which is enough to light a bulb. Made of 75% water, your brain has over 100 trillion synapses that connect those neurons and enough “space” to hold the entire Encyclopedia Britannica five-fold, or 1,000 terabytes of information. And the Cheech and Chong myth isn’t true; you do use your entire brain, even when high.
3. They Saved Einstein’s Brain.
The autopsy revealed that Einstein’s brain was smaller than average and subsequent analyses showed all the changes that normally occur with age.
When Albert Einstein died in 1955, they didn’t just save a lock of his crazy white hair, they also saved his brain. Dr. Thomas Harvey performed the brainectomy a just over seven and a half hours after Einstein’s death, purportedly for scientific research. Then it vanished. It wasn’t until 1978 that an intrepid journalist named Steven Levy tracked down Dr. Harvey in Wichita, Kansas, where the good doctor admitted he still had the brain, sliced in 240 pieces and bobbing in two mason jars filled with formaldehyde.
4. There Are Differences Between the Right and Left Brain.
The brain’s right hemisphere controls the muscles on the left side of the body, while the left hemisphere controls the muscles on the right side of the human body. When you wink your right eye, that’s the left side of your brain at work.
The brain is split up into two symmetrical hemispheres. While they do work together, the left brain favors more rational, analytical thinking, while the right is more visually and conceptually oriented. They also work in opposites. For example you stub your left toe and the “pain” is processed on the right side. And they put right side up whatever is upside down (the image in your eyes is actually received inverted and the brain corrects it). But here’s the really weird thing, even if you were to lose one-half of your brain, you would be able to survive without it!
5. Men’s Brains are 10% Bigger than Females.
Women are purported to have better communication skills and emotional intelligence than men. Women tend to be group-oriented, and apt to seek solutions by talking through issues. Men can have trouble picking up on emotional cues unless they’re clearly verbalized – making for tricky communications between the sexes.
So there you go, proven that men have bigger brains than women. But before you go patting yourselves on the back guys, note that although women’s brains are smaller, they have more nerve cells and connectors and work more efficiently then men’s. And, true to the stereotype, they tend to process on the more “emotional” right side of the brain, while men process on the “logical” left. Also, an area known as the straight gyrus, responsible for nurturing, feminine traits, is proportionately larger in women.
6. Your Brain is More Active When You Sleep.
Hypnagogia is the experience of the transitional state from wakefulness to sleep: the hypnagogic state of consciousness, during the onset of sleep. In opposition, hypnopompia denotes the onset of wakefulness.
Night-time is the right time for your brain to process all the activity that has occurred during the day. This is why scientists think we dream (no one is really sure why). Some believe it’s a way to process the complex emotions and interactions of our daily lives, others think it’s just a way to zero-out information, much like a computer. A recent study showed it may help us alleviate trauma. People with higher IQs tend to dream more, and a nap during the day has proven to make people more energized and focused on their work.
7. “Inception” is Real.
A lucid dream is any dream in which one is aware that one is dreaming. Skeptics of the phenomenon suggest that it is not a state of sleep, but of brief wakefulness.
It turns out, there is something called Lucid Dreaming, where a person could control the outcome of a dream while in a sleep-like state. It has its roots in ancient Tibetan Buddhism, where aspirants would practice “Dream Yoga” – doing incredible feats of dexterity during sleep, reminding themselves of the illusory nature of existence. The term was first coined by Frederik (Willem) van Eeden in the 1880s, but the concept didn’t take hold until the late 1960s. Nowadays, Lucid Dreaming is all the rage, with plenty of resources online to begin the training process.
8. We don’t know why we laugh.
Laughter is a physical reaction in humans and some other species of primate, consisting typically of rhythmical, often audible contractions of the diaphragm and other parts of the respiratory system.
True laughter is involuntary, this is why the milk comes gushing out your nose. Only human beings are born with this ability (a Laughing Hyena is not really laughing) and babies begin giggling at 4 months old. And while true laughter is contagious, it is also something not easily faked. But why do we laugh? It is not because of jokes. Over a 10-year period, one doctor studied 2,000 laugh-inducing situations and discovered that most of the time a guffaw was not the result of a punch line. Maybe someday we will understand why we are ticklish, too.
9. Does Brain Size Matter?
Some glial cells function primarily as the physical support for neurons. Others regulate the internal environment of the brain, especially the fluid surrounding neurons and their synapses, and nutrify neurons.
Research has been mixed on the subject of brain size and intelligence – Albert Einstein’s brain was only 1,230 grams, while the average adult male brain weighs 1,400 grams. (An unusually large amount of glial cells are attributed to his smarts.) Another study shows that the bigger the person’s head, the smarter they are, while those with pointier heads show less intelligence.
10. Highest IQ? Kim Ung-yong with 210.
Kim Ung-yong started speaking at the age of 6 months and was able to read Korean, Japanese, English, German and many other languages by his third birthday.
Born March 8, 1972, Kim Ung-young already understood algebra at 8 months old. By the time he was 2, he was fluent in 4 languages. He began attending university at 4, and graduated at 15. But Ung-young isn’t just a smarty-pants, he is also a gifted painter and poet. Nowadays he lives in S. Korea and presumably has time to do all the things he never had a chance to do… like have a childhood.