9 facts about the human brain
The brain has got to be the most fascinating organ of the human body. Scientists have yet to fathom all its mysteries, so research that emerges on it is still often totally surprising and new. In fact, you've probably never heard of these nine new discoveries:
1. The brain is prone to dehydration
The human brain consists of about ¾ water. Even when it's only 2% dehydrated it's enough to affect short-term memory and concentration negatively. That's one of the reasons you should be drinking at least eight cups of water per day.
2. You make most of your decisions unconsciously
You can weigh pros and cons all you want. But 95% of your decisions are still made totally unconsciously. (Though there are ways to bring some of those into your conscious mind...)
3. The brain can eat itself up
This sounds pretty gruesome but it can actually happen. Our brains use a quarter of the calories we eat so crash diets, in particular, can lead to the brain being seriously undernourished. To compensate, it starts to destroy itself by using up brain cells just for energy. It's a type of self-preserving cannibalism.
To avoid that happening it's important to get enough healthy sustenance for your body, so no more yo-yo diets if you want to stay smart!
4. Sweating can shrink your brain
Exercise is healthy and a real fountain of youth. But you shouldn't overdo it: scientists have found that after an hour and a half of decent sweating your brain starts to shrink. In the next 90 minutes of sweaty exercise it can shrink as much as it might otherwise do in a year. Not surprising when you remember that it consists of 73% water. So again, drink enough — especially at the gym — and consider breaking up your longer workouts into shorter segments.
5. The brain doesn't store information when you're drunk
If you wake up blank and ask yourself what the heck happened last night, then you probably drank too much. These blackouts aren't actually "forgetting" because your brain never stored the information in the first place. Drinking isn't only bad for your internal organs (poor liver!), it disables your brain. It simply can't store info when you're too drunk.
That can leave you in quite a vulnerable position (unless of course you're at an event you'd much rather forget).
6. Our brain's attention span is shorter than that of a goldfish
It sounds like an insult but it's been scientifically demonstrated: the brain's attention spans eight seconds, goldfish manage nine. And that's part of why we're multitasking geniuses since we can handle a lot of different tasks practically simultaneously.
7. The brain doesn't know what pain is
When we stumble and fall, our brain sends a signal out so that we feel pain. But the brain itself doesn't have any ability to feel pain. The skull and cerebral membrane have pain receptors but not the organ itself. That's why operations on the brain can be performed without any anesthetic.
8. Your brain needs the same amount of energy as a lightbulb
Even on a day where you do nothing at all, your brain still needs a fifth of your total energy. It's about what an old 25 watt bulb used up in a day.
9. Your brain is still developing until you're 25
At some point it has to stop, and that's what happens when you're 25. By 26 your brain is fully matured and doesn't develop further. However — and this is big — there's tons of astonishing research into the plasticity of the brain which shows that even though your brain's blueprint is there, it can keep learning and changing forever.
What an incredible organ sitting right up there inside our skulls: it's always useful to know more about what it can do — and how to take good care of it!