The most mysterious organ of all those a human has, the brain is a riddle which has fascinated people for thousands of years. Even advanced technologies cannot help us reveal all its secrets, and while there is a lot to discover, the brain will probably remain a tough nut to crack. Still, some of the facts about it we know are really interesting, and you may find them curious even if you have always hated biology lessons.
Fact #1The brain is quite heavy, as it weighs around three pounds, or ~1,350 g, so its share in the total body weight makes up about 2%. Just to make it more vivid: a cat brain is only 30 g, and that of an elephant is as heavy as the whopping 6,000 g. Its average dimensions may differ from the ones you could imagine: it’s roughly 14 x 17 x 9 cm. The total length of blood vessels found in the brain is about 100,000 miles, which is four times the length of the equator!
Fact #2The brain is resource-demanding. Of all blood and oxygen supplies, the organ claims around 20%.
Fact #3One hundred billion. This is the approximate number of neurons in the brain.
Fact #4In humans, the brain keeps on growing until the person turns 18 or so. During the first year, its size is increasing really fast, and it becomes three times larger within this period. At early stages of pregnancy, the rate at which neurons are formed is especially impressive – 250,000 a minute!
Fact #5The brain is among the fattest organs in the human organism, as the share of fat is around 60%.
Fact #6Besides fat, there is a lot of water (75%), which explains why dehydration is so detrimental to health: not only do metabolic processes change, but cognitive function can also be impaired to a certain extent. Drinking plenty of water to supply your body with fluid is a must (and can even help prevent some urinary tract infections), so don’t keep your brain thirsty.
Fact #7Headaches are not the result of pain in the brain. The brain is not able to feel pain itself: it follows certain chemical reactions in the organ, and when the tissues in and around it are affected–say, when blood vessels constrict–you may feel pain.
Fact #8It is a common assumption that regardless of whether a person is doing something or just being idle, only 10% of the brain is used. The myth is also used to back the claims that our abilities can be significantly improved if we learn how to activate the “dormant” areas and boost the brain’s performance. It is simply not true: all parts of the brain are used at any given moment, and while some areas may be more active than others, these ratios are constantly changing, and if a particular area is now not that active compared to other areas, it is likely to change really fast.
Fact #9We are used to hearing that cholesterol is our enemy, and its level should be lowered by means of dietary restrictions. While excessive intake of foods rich in cholesterol and, perhaps even more importantly, in saturated and trans fats, which the liver converts into cholesterol, can lead to health problems, cholesterol is used to maintain normal brain function, so eliminating it completely is really a bad idea which can result in poor memory and learning ability.
The brain is so difficult to research that every piece of information is valued. These facts took a long time to be revealed, and who knows – perhaps they could inspire you to contribute to biological research?