TECH & SCIENCE

WITH CHRIS

Wangaratta Chronicle - North East Regional Extra - - Front Page -

THE hu­man brain is the most com­plex and least un­der­stood part of the hu­man anatomy.

There may be a lot we don’t know, but here are a few in­ter­est­ing facts you can store in your grey mat­ter.

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 or why that stubbed toe hurts right away?

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.

The brain op­er­ates on the same amount of power as 10-watt light bulb.

The car­toon im­age of a light bulb over your head when a great thought oc­curs isn’t too far off the mark.

Your brain gen­er­ates as much en­ergy as a small light bulb even when you’re sleep­ing.

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 darn im­pres­sive.

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.

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 this is but you can thank the hard work of your brain while you sleep for all those pleas­ant dreams.

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.

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.

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 me­tres/sec or as fast as 120 me­tres/sec.

The brain it­self can­not feel pain.

While the brain might be the pain cen­ter when you cut your fin­ger or burn your­self, the brain it­self does not have pain re­cep­tors and can­not feel pain. That doesn’t mean your head can’t hurt. The brain is sur­rounded by loads of tis­sues, nerves and blood ves­sels that are plenty re­cep­tive to pain and can give you a pound­ing headache.

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.

MIND OVER MAT­TER: There’s so much we’re yet to learn about the hu­man brain

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