10 Fun Brain Facts
The brain is a complex organ. Weighing an average of three pounds, the brain is the supercomputer of our body. It’s where we process thoughts, store and access memory, control bodily functions including dictating when and how our bodies move. And yet, for all we know about how the brain functions, scientists and researchers are still unlocking fascinating discoveries regarding how the brain operates. Here are ten fun brain facts.
- When we’re born, our brain weighs about three-quarters of a pound or approximately 350-400 grams. It will double in size in the first year alone and keep growing until we reach adulthood. The average human brain weighs around three pounds or 1,300-1,400 grams.
- Sometimes, when we drink too much, we can experience a phenomenon known as blacking out. This happens because alcohol disrupts the synaptic connections in the brain, particularly the hippocampus, which is key to forming memory. Alcohol decreases the neural activity in the hippocampus, which disrupts the formation of short-term memories.
- Despite being around 2% of our total body weight, the brain uses about 20% of our total energy. For an individual consuming a diet of around 2,000 calories, that means the brain requires 400 calories simply to carry out its necessary actions of processing, thinking, and deciding, along with maintaining our normal bodily functions.
- The human body is composed of water and the brain––made up of 75% water––is no exception. In fact, water is so vital, that as little as a 2% drop in hydration levels in the brain can result in memory loss, impaired cognitive skills, and a reduced attention span.
- We’ve all either experienced or witnessed someone crying tears of joy. When we experience emotion, our amygdala is sending signals to the hypothalamus to respond. But the hypothalamus can’t tell the difference between intense joy or immense sadness, so it triggers the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which produces tears.
- The brain generates 12-25 watts of electricity, enough to power a low wattage LED light bulb. To put that in perspective, it would take almost 70 hours or just under three days to charge an iPhone if we used our entire electrical output. Since that means our brain wouldn’t have enough power to keep our body running, it’s a good thing we can’t actually harness any of our brain’s electrical power.
- The human brain is the only part of the body that doesn’t feel pain since it has no pain receptors. This is why brain surgeries can be performed when the patient is awake. Of course, the scalp and areas surrounding the brain itself have pain receptors, so even if a patient is awake for part of their brain surgery, anesthesia is still required.
- We often associate yawning with boredom or being tired. But studies show yawning could be a way for the brain to boost its performance. When our body stops moving, our brain temperature rises. Yawning sends more oxygen and increases blood flow to the brain, cooling it off. Keep in mind, yawning is a complex physiological process, involving a lot of mechanisms we’re still studying, so this fun fact is an evolving one.
- When we’re asleep, our motor cortex is still active and sending commands to our spinal cord, just like when we’re awake. To prevent us from moving and hurting ourselves, the brain produces a set of chemical neural inhibitors, gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, and glycine. These chemicals override the motor cortex signals in our spinal cord, keeping us safe while we sleep.
- During every second of human life, there are roughly 100,000 chemical reactions happening in the human brain. This information travels at a mind-boggling 260 mph. These chemical reactions are how the thousands of neurons communicate to each other, sending signals and commands from the brain to the various parts of our body.
The human brain is the most complex and mysterious organ in our body. As scientists continue to work on studying the brain, new information and understanding of this incredible organ will continue to build. Which is great for us and our brain. Because if there’s one thing we know, it’s that the brain loves learning almost more than we do.