Nerve impulses to and from the brain travel as fast as 170 miles per hour. Ever wonder how you can react so fast to things around you? It’s due to the super-speedy movement of nerve impulses from your brain to the rest of your body and vice versa, bringing reactions at the speed of a high powered luxury sports car.
2. The human brain cell can hold 5 times as much information as the Encyclopedia Britannica. Or any other encyclopedia for that matter. Scientists have yet to settle on a definitive amount, but the storage capacity of the brain in electronic terms is thought to be between 3 or even 1,000 terabytes. The National Archives of Britain, containing over 900 years of history, only takes up 70 terabytes, making your brain’s memory power pretty impressive!
4. Your brain uses 20% of the oxygen that enters your bloodstream. The brain only makes up about 2% of our body mass, yet consumes more oxygen than any other organ in the body, making it extremely susceptible to damage related to oxygen deprivation. So breathe deep to keep your brain happy and swimming in oxygenated cells.
5. The brain is much more active at night than during the day. Logically, you would think that all the moving around, complicated calculations and tasks and general interaction we do on a daily basis during our working hours would take a lot more brain power than, say, lying in bed. Turns out, the opposite is true. When you turn off your brain turns on. Scientists don’t yet know why. Weird…
6. Scientists say the higher your I.Q. the more you dream. While this may be true, don’t take it as a sign you’re mentally lacking if you can’t recall your dreams. Most of us don’t remember many of our dreams and the average length of most dreams is only 2-3 seconds–barely long enough to register.
7. Neurons continue to grow throughout human life. For years scientists and doctors thought that brain and neural tissue couldn’t grow or regenerate. While it doesn’t act in the same manner as tissues in many other parts of the body, neurons can and do grow throughout your life, adding a whole new dimension to the study of the brain and the illnesses that affect it.
8. Information travels at different speeds within different types of neurons. Not all neurons are the same. There are a few different types within the body and transmission along these different kinds can be as slow as 0.5 meters/sec or as fast as 120 meters/sec.
9. 80% of the brain is water. Your brain isn’t the firm, gray mass you’ve seen on TV. Living brain tissue is a squishy, pink and jelly-like organ thanks to the loads of blood and high water content of the tissue. So the next time you’re feeling dehydrated get a drink to keep your brain hydrated.
10. Brain freeze is a mystery. Nobody’s quite sure why a fast gulp of Slurpee can leave you feeling like a vice is crushing the inside of your head. We call it “brain freeze,” but the sensation is actually felt around the temples and the mask of the face; remember, the brain itself has no pain receptors. The best guess among scientists is that a cold drink, when rapidly consumed, shocks the trigeminal nerve, which is responsible for sensation to the face and head. The brain’s hypothalamus gets a message to create warmth and responds by dilating vessels around the nerve to heat the area with blood flow. But the sudden dilation causes pressure and a stunning wave of pain.
11. Brain surgery can be conducted while a patient is awake. Patients suffering from brain tumors or epileptic seizures may undergo surgery while awake. Rather than relying exclusively on brain-imaging technology, a neurosurgeon can speak to an awake patient to mark or “map” critical areas of the brain that control vision, language, and body movement, ensuring the procedure’s accuracy and safe outcome. The patient is anesthetized during the portion of surgery when doctors make their way through the cranium to the exposed brain.