Brain 101 | The Awesomeness of Our Brain

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Brain 101

“Brain: An apparatus with which we think that we think” – Ambrose Bierce

Our brain is the most fascinating, mind-blowing (pun intended) organ on the planet. An instrument we can fine-tune, modify, and adapt to our will; starting with the power of a mere thought. A structure that physically changes with every new memory formation, skill acquisition, or experience. The most powerful computer ever in existence. An apparatus so complex, that it doesn’t even completely understand itself (although we try very hard).

The brain, typically weighing about 2% of one’s overall body weight (or about 3 pounds) operates on an estimated 20% of your daily energy, 20% of oxygen, and 25% of glucose. The brain is one greedy resource hog! Although small, it’s buzzing with life containing over 100 billion neurons, and enough synapses (neuron connections) to make the US National Debt look miniscule. There are more connections in our brain than there are stars in the universe. In the midst of this busy crowd, it sends messages along at speeds of over 200 mph!

The brain is involved in everything we do and it’s obvious that people choose to use this organ in many different ways (or not at all it seems). We can cherish and nourish this organ like a new born baby, or treat it like a beat up old Chevy by putting into it just enough to keep it running. In future articles, we will be discussing brain health, brain effectiveness, as well as education about different areas of the brain and what we currently know about them. When dealing with the brain, the old principle of ‘Use it, or lose it’ holds very true.

To avoid a brain freeze, I’m not going to overload you with too much brain science today, but hopefully peak your interest and curiosity into the miraculous maze. It’s my hope that my fascination with the brain can be contagious. To start, here are some cool facts I enjoy:

Did you know?

  • Aristotle thought the heart was the main organ for sensations and thinking… he thought the brain was just a cooling system or radiator for our blood to keep our body from overheating. This is possibly the origin of expressions like ‘follow your heart’ or ‘to memorize by heart’.
  • “We only use 10% of our brain” is complete hogwash.
  • If the cortex (outer covering, wrinkled part) of your brain was unfolded and ironed flat, it would be about 2.5 square feet!
  • The brain is 75% water (some say more).
  • There are no pain receptors in the brain (you can stick a needle in your brain without even saying ‘ouch’)
  • Sure, we kill brain cells, but we can also create new ones!
  • Despite being referred to as “grey matter“, the live cortex is pinkish-beige in color and slightly off-white in the interior.
  • If you brain doesn’t receive blood for 8-10 seconds, you lose consciousness. (Putting someone in the ‘sleeper hold’ blocks blood flow to the brain, not only air flow)
  • You can’t tickle yourself because your brain distinguishes between unexpected external touch and your own touch.
  • The connection between mind and body is very, very strong. Doctors attribute an estimated 50-70% of patient visits are attributed to psychological factors.
  • Laughing requires the activity of 5 different parts of the brain.
  • A piece of brain tissue the size of a grain of sand contains 100,000 neurons and 1 billion synapses, all “talking” to one another.
  • The brain continues to grow until our mid-20s. Before then, the front part of the brain (the prefrontal cortex) which holds our executive functions and rational thinking is not fully developed. Try using this excuse on your parents when you mess up. ‘It’s not my fault Mom! My prefrontal cortex isn’t fully developed yet!’

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Greg has written 69 articles on Student of Me.

Greg is the creator and primary writer for Student of Me. He probably spends way too much time on the computer writing, researching, programming, and working on his photography. He loves escaping from screen-time to travel, ride his motorcycle, experience the outdoors and spend time with loved ones. You can contact him at greg (at)!

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