The field of neuroscience is still very much in its infancy, but what we have been able to learn about the brain and its functions is groundbreaking! Much like the spine, the brain plays a vital role in your overall health and well-being. How much do you know about the brain? Let’s take a dive into the brain waves of history to find out!
70 Brain Facts That Will Blow Your Mind
The Developing Brain
- The brain takes the longest of any organ to develop and goes through more changes than any other organ.
- Neurons develop at the rate of 250,000 neurons per minute during early pregnancy.
- The first sense to develop 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.
- Reading aloud and talking often to a young child promotes brain development.
- Babies have big heads to hold rapidly growing brains. A 2-year-old’s brain is 80% of adult size.
- At birth, your brain was almost the same size as an adult brain and contained most of the brain cells for your whole life.
- The brain stops growing around the age 18.
- Brain information moves anywhere between 1 mph and an impressive 268 miles per hour. This is faster than Formula 1 race cars which top out at 240 mph.
- Humans have more brain cells at the age of two than at any other time of their lives.
- If brain cells were replaced, like skin or liver cells, scientists hypothesize we would lose our memories.
How the Brain Functions
What do neurons use to talk to each other? A cellular phone.
- There are more than 100,000 chemical reactions happening in the human brain every second.
- Your brain uses 20% of the total oxygen in your body and 20% of the blood circulating in your body.
- 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.
- If your brain loses blood for 8 to 10 seconds, you will lose consciousness.
- While awake, your brain generates between 10 and 23 watts of power–or enough energy to power a light bulb.
- Excessive stress has shown to “alter brain cells, brain structure, and brain function.
- The average number of thoughts that humans are believed to experience each day is 70,000.
Ooooh, The Way You Make Me Feel
How the Brain Helps You “Experience”
- Scientists have discovered that men and women’s brains react differently to pain, which explains why they may perceive or discuss pain differently.
- A small area in the brain called the amygdala is responsible for your ability to read someone else’s face for clues to how they are feeling.
- Boredom is brought on by a lack of change of stimulation, is largely a function of perception, and is connected to the innate curiosity found in humans.
- You can’t tickle yourself because your brain distinguished between unexpected external touch and your own touch.
- There is a class of people known as supertasters who not only have more taste buds on the tongue but can detect some flavors that others cannot.
- The human brain can process information as fast as 268 miles/hr. Information travels to the brain at different speeds because neurons are built differently.
- Experts estimate that in a lifetime, a human brain may retain one quadrillion separate bits of information.
Mind Over “Matter“
What did the neuron say to the glial cell? “Thanks for the support!”
- Average human brain weight: 3lbs
- Albert Einstein’s brain weighed 2.71 pounds,10 percent smaller than the average; however, the neuron density of his brain was greater.
- The cerebrum is the largest part of the brain and makes up 85% of the brain’s weight! The cerebral cortex grows thicker as you learn to use it.
- The human skill weighs roughly 20lbs.
- The brain represents only 2% of the body weight but uses up to 20% of the body’s energy production. The brain is the most energy consuming part of the body.
- The heaviest known brain weighed 4.43lbs. The smallest known brain weighed 2.41lbs.
- The skull is only as thick as three coins one on top of the other.
Did you know…
- Eyeballs are a direct physical extension of the brain.
- There are no pain receptors in the brain, so the brain can feel no pain.
- About 750ml of blood pumps through your brain every minute.
- The surface area of the human brain is about 230-470 square inches (1,500-3,000 sq. cm). The average length of a spinal cord is about 19 inches (45 cm)
- Our brain is 73% water. It takes only 2% dehydration to affect your attention, memory, and other cognitive skills.
- The human brain consists of 60% fat, making it one of the fattiest organs in the body.
- Déjà vu (French for “already seen”) has never been fully explained, though some scientists believe that a neurological glitch causes an experience to be registered in the memory before reaching consciousness.
- The human brain has around 100,000 miles of blood vessels.
- Your brain is 60% white matter and 40% gray matter. The white matter is made up of dendrites and axons, which create the network by which neurons send their signals. The brain’s gray matter is made up of neurons, which gather and transmit signals.
- Men have 6.5 times more gray matter in the brain than women; however, women have about 10 times more white matter than men.
- Laughing at a joke is no simple task as it requires activity in five different areas of the brain.
- The sense of smell connects to the part of the brain that also controls emotions and memories. This is why smells often evoke strong memories.
- The word “brain” appears 66 times in the plays of William Shakespeare.
- One scientist believes we need creative language “to keep the brain alive.”
“You can often tell what someone is going to say before they finish their sentence” he says. “This represents a gradual deadening of the brain.”- Philip Davis, Professor at the University of Liverpool’s School of English
Your Brain and Sleep
What is a sleeping brain’s favorite rock band? REM.
- Humans grow faster at night than they do during the day because a small part of the brain, the pituitary gland, releases a growth hormone at night while a person sleeps.
- Everyone dreams. Five minutes after a dream, half of the dream is forgotten. Ten minutes after a dream, over 90% is forgotten.
- Blind people dream, as well. Whether or not they dream in pictures depends on if they were born blind or lost their vision later.
- Some people (about 12%) dream only in black and white while others dream in color.
- Studies show that brain waves are more active while dreaming than when you are awake.
- If you are snoring, you are not dreaming.
- As those who invest in dream dictionaries can attest, dreams almost never represent what they actually are. The unconscious mind strives to make connections with concepts you will understand, so dreams are largely symbolic representations.
- A study published in the journal Sleep Medicine describes how Disney creators used real sleep disorders in many of their animated pets.
We Put the Neuro in Neuroscience
What do you call a skull without 1 billion neurons? A no-brainer.
- It is estimated we have approximately 100 billion Neurons that is about 166 times the number of people on the planet.
- Humans continue to make new neurons throughout life in response to mental activity.
- Each neuron connects with, on average, 40,000 synapses.
- A piece of brain tissue the size of a grain of sand contains 100,000 neurons and 1 billion synapses all communicating with each other.
- All brain cells are not alike. There are as many as 10,000 specific types of neurons in the brain.
- 25% of the body’s cholesterol resides within the brain. Cholesterol is an integral part of every brain cell. Without adequate cholesterol, brain cells die.
- Neurons send information to your brain at more than 150 miles (241 kilometers) per hour.
- All neurons lined up side by side would stretch 1000 km; unfortunately, the line would be 10 microns wide…invisible to the naked eye.
Historical Moments in the Brain Waves of History
What do you get when you cross a thought with a light bulb? A bright idea.
- 4000 B.C. The first known writing about the brain was found in ancient Sumeria.The anonymous writer describes the euphoric, mind-altering feeling caused by eating poppies.
- 2000 B.C. Archeologists found evidence that primitive brain surgery was performed by drilling a hole in the skull.
- 1700 B.C. The first description of the anatomy of the brain is found by Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus.
- c. 6th century B.C. An early Greek physician was the first to claim that the brain is the central organ of sensation and thought, the eyes themselves hold light, and that the optic nerves are light-bearing paths to the brain.
- 384 B.C.-322 B.C. Aristotle believed that the center of thought was the heart and that the brain’s function was merely to cool the heart.
- 1811. Scottish surgeon Charles Bell described how each of the senses had a corresponding spot in the brain.
- Late 1800s Eduard Hitzig and Gustav Fritsch discovered that the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body and vice versa.
- 1862. Paul Broca determined the location of the speech center in the brain. The section of the brain responsible for speech was named “Broca” in honor of his research.
- 1883. Russian Writer Ivan Turgenev had the heaviest known normal human brain, weighing in at 4.43 lbs. He died in 1883. The smallest known normal brain belonged to a woman who died in 1977. Her brain weighed just 2.41 pounds.
- 1899. Aspirin was marketed as a pain reliever but was not available without a prescription until 1915.
- 1921. Hermann Rorschach invented the now-famous ink blot test for use with his patients.
- 2013. US President Barack Obama announces the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative.
- 2014. John O’Keefe, Edvard Moser, and May-Britt Moser share the Nobel Prize for their discoveries about cells that constitute a positioning system in the brain.