100 Fascinating Facts About The Human Brain According To Science


100 Fascinating Facts About The Human Brain According To Science

The following brain facts dispel several brain myths that exist based on outdated knowledge. Below you can learn how the human brain works, for better (or worse). All the facts cite original references.

1. The typical brain comprises about 2 percent of our body’s total weight but uses 20 percent of its total energy and oxygen intake. (source)

2. The brain is 73 percent water. It only takes 2 percent dehydration to affect our attention, memory and other cognitive skills. (source, source)

3. 90 minutes of sweating can temporarily shrink your brain as much as one year of aging can. (source)

4. The brain weighs around three pounds. 60 percent of the dry weight is fat, something that makes the brain the fattiest organ in your body. (source)

5. 25 percent of your body’s cholesterol resides within your brain. Cholesterol is an integral part of each brain cell. Without adequate cholesterol, the brain cells die. (source)

6. Nobody can tell for sure, but according to the latest estimate, your brain contains roughly 86 billion brain cells. (source)

7. Every neuron can transmit a thousand nerve impulses per second and make tens of thousands of synaptic contacts with other neurons. (source, source)

8. A piece of brain tissue the size of a grain of sand, contains 100,000 neurons and 1 billion synapses, all communicating with each other. (source)

9. All brain cells aren't alike. There are about 10,000 types of neurons in your brain. (source)

10. Our brain need a constant supply of oxygen. As little as five minutes without oxygen can lead to the death of some brain cells, causing severe brain damage. (source)

11. Babies have big heads to hold rapidly growing brains. A two-year-old’s brain is 80 percent of adult size. (source)

12. As any parent can attest, a teenager's brains aren't fully formed. It is not until around the age of 25 that the brain reaches full maturity. (source)

13. Brain information travels up to an astonishing 268 miles per hour. That's faster than Formula 1 race cars that top out at 240 mph. (source, source)

14. Your brain generates approximately 12-25 watts of electricity. That's enough to power a low-wattage LED light. (source)

15. There is a reason the brain has been named a “random thought generator.” The average brain is considered to generate up to 50,000 thoughts a day. (source)

16. Every minute, 750-1,000 milliliters of blood flow through the brain. That's enough to fill a bottle of wine or liter bottle of soda. (source)

17. Our brains can process a picture that our eyes have seen for as little as thirteen milliseconds — less time than it takes us to blink. (source, source)

18. In general, men’s brains are 10 percent bigger than women’s, even after considering larger body size. Nevertheless, the hippocampus, the part of the brain most strongly connected to the human memory, is typically larger in women. (source)

19. Albert Einstein’s brain weighed 2.71 pounds (1,230 grams) — ten percent smaller than the average which is three pounds (1,400 grams). Nevertheless, the neuron density of his brain was higher than average. (source)

20. Neanderthal brains were 10% larger than our Homo sapiens brains. (source)

21. While humans have the biggest brains proportional to the body weight of all animals, we do not have the biggest brains. This distinction belongs to sperm whales with seventeen-pound brains. (source)

22. Human brains have got reasonably smaller over the past 10-20,000 years. This lost volume equals the size of a tennis ball. (source)

23. The hippocampus, the part of the brain which is considered the “memory center,” is reasonably larger in London cab drivers. That's because of the mental workout they get while they navigate the 25,000 streets of London. (source)

24. Chronic stress and depression are rampant in modern life. Either can lead to measurable brain shrinkage. (source)

25. The modern diet is low in omega-3 essential fatty acids. Low levels of omega-3s result in brain shrinkage equivalent to 2 years of structural brain aging. (source, source)

26. Since the Victorian era, average IQs have decreased 1.6 points per decade for a total of 13.35 points. (source)

27. Technology has forced most people to become prodigious multitaskers. However, our brains can’t learn or concentrate on many things at once. What it can do is swiftly toggle back and forth between the tasks. However, doing so decreases our attention span, our ability to learn, our short-term memory, and our overall mental performance. (source, source)

28. Unexpectedly, millennials (aged from 18 to 34) are more forgetful than baby boomers. They're more likely to forget what day it is or where they've put their keys than their parents are! (source)

29. Attention spans are becoming shorter. In 2000, the average attention span was twelve seconds. Now, it’s eight seconds. This is shorter than the nine-second attention span of the average goldfish. (source)

30. Brain cells cannibalize themselves as a last-ditch source of energy to ward off starvation. Therefore, in very real ways, dieting, particularly low-fat diets, can force our brains to eat itself. (source)

31. More than 140 proteins in our brains are negatively affected by exposure to electromagnetic frequencies, the kind that is emitted by your cell phone and several other electronic devices. (source)

32. Relying on GPS to navigate can destroy our innate sense of direction, a skill which took our ancestors thousands of years to develop and hone. When brain areas involved in navigation are no longer used, these neural connections fade away through a process known as synaptic pruning. (source, source, source)

33. The popular myth that we only use ten percent of our brains is flat-out wrong. Brain scans demonstrate that we use the most of our brains most of the time, even when we are sleeping. (source, source)

34. There's no such thing as a left-brain or right-brain personality or skill type. We aren't left-brained or right-brained; we're “whole-brained.” (see #33)

35. In spite of what you’ve been told, alcohol does not kill brain cells. What excessive alcohol consumption can do, is damage the connective tissue at the end of neurons. (source)

36. The “Mozart effect” has been debunked. While listening to certain kinds of music improves memory and concentration, there is nothing unique about listening to Mozart. (source)

37. You might have heard that we've got more brain cells than there are stars in the Milky Way; however, this isn't true. Best-guess estimates are that we have 86 billion neurons while there are 200 to 400 billion stars in the Milky Way. (source)

38. It’s frequently said that there are 10,000 miles of blood vessels in the brain when that number is closer to 400 miles. Still, it's a substantial amount! (source)

39. Contrary to the prevailing medical claim, having high total cholesterol isn't bad for your brain. In fact, high cholesterol lowers your risk of dementia. (source)

40. Until lately, it was a “fact” that we were born with a set level of intelligence and a certain number of brain cells. However, it has since been found that our brain can change throughout our lifetime because of a property known as brain plasticity. Our brains can continue to form new brain cells through a process known as neurogenesis. (source)

41. Memory is better thought of as an activity instead of being linked to a specific area of our brains. Any given memory is deconstructed and distributed in different parts of our brains. Then, for the memory to be recalled, it can get reconstructed from the individual fragments. (source)

42. Your brain begins to slow down at the ripe old age of 24. However, peaks for different cognitive skills at different ages. Actually, at any given age, you are likely to be getting better at certain things and worse at others. An extreme case is vocabulary skills which might peak as late as the early 70s! (source, source, source, source)

43. If you were drinking alcohol and did not remember what you did last night, it isn't because you forgot. While we're drunk, our brain is incapable of forming memories. (source)

44. It’s thought that people with exceptional memory are born that way, although that's rarely the case. Most memory masters will say that having an outstanding memory is a skill they managed to develop by employing the best memory techniques. (source)

45. Human brain tissue is not dense. It’s very fragile — soft and squishy, similar to tofu’s or gelatin’s consistency. (source)

46. Your brain produces half a cup of fluid daily. It floats in this bath of cerebrospinal fluid that acts as a shock absorber to maintain the brain from being crushed by its weight. (source)

47. Sometimes half a brain is a good as a whole one. When surgeons operate to stop seizures, they remove or disable half of the brain in a procedure known as a hemispherectomy. Shockingly, patients experience no effect on personality or memory. (source)

48. The brain has a connectivity pattern as unique as our fingerprints. (source)

49. Even though pain is processed in our brains, our brains have no pain receptors and therefore, feel no pain. That explains how brain surgery can be performed while a patient is awake with no pain or discomfort. Headache pain feels like it begins in the brain, but is caused by sensations from the nearby skin, joints, sinuses, blood vessels or muscles. (source, source)

50. Brain freeze sure feels like pain in your brain, but that's an example of referred pain which emanates from the roof of the mouth. Luckily, brain freeze doesn't freeze brain cells because frozen brain cells rupture and turn to mush. (source, source)

51. The brains of an introvert and an extrovert are measurably different. MRIs show that the dopamine reward network is more active in the brain of an extrovert while an introvert’s brain has more gray matter. (source, source, source)

52. Research conducted at Cambridge University showed that the order of letters in a word does not matter much to our brain. As long as the first and last letters are in the right spot, our brain can rearrange the letters to form words as fast as we can read. That's why we can easily make sense out of the following jumble of letters:

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Pretty fascinating! (source)

53. Your brain’s storage capacity is considered virtually unlimited. It doesn’t get “used up” like RAM in your computer. (source)

54. The latest research demonstrates that our brains' memory capacity is a quadrillion, or 1015, bytes. Incredibly, that's about the same amount needed to store the entire internet! (source)

55. The brain is capable of 1,016 processes per second; that makes it far more powerful than any existing computer. (source)

56. Researchers involved in the AI Impacts project, have discovered a way to compare supercomputers to brains: they measure how fast a computer can move information around its own system. By this standard, the human brain is 30 times more powerful than the IBM Sequoia, one of the world’s fastest supercomputers. (source)

57. Japan’s K computer is among the most powerful computers worldwide. When programmed to simulate human brain activity, it took forty minutes to crunch the data equivalent to only one second of brain activity. (source, source)

58. There are approximately 200 known cognitive biases and distortions which cause us to think and act irrationally. (source, source, source)

59. Memories are surprisingly unreliable and change over time. Emotions, motivation, context, cues, and frequency of use can all have an impact on how accurately we remember something. That includes “flash bulb memories” that occur during traumatic events. (source, source)

60. Of the thousands of thoughts, someone has every day, it is estimated that 70 percent of this mental chatter is negative — self-critical, pessimistic, and fearful. (source, source)

61. You think you are in control of your life? Don’t be so sure. Ninety-five percent of your decisions take place in your subconscious mind. (source)

62. A blood-brain barrier protects our brain by preventing many foreign substances in our vascular system from reaching our brain. However, the barrier does not work perfectly, and a lot of substances sneak through. Nicotine rushes into the brain in a mere seven seconds. Alcohol, on the other hand, takes six minutes. (source, source)

63. Your brain craves mental stimulation, sometimes to a fault. Men specifically would give themselves electric shocks instead of sitting quietly in a room and think! (source)

64. Synesthesia is a condition where stimulation of one sense automatically evokes a perception of another sense. People with synesthesia may “taste” words, “smell” sounds, or see numbers as colors. While it isn't known exactly why that occurs, the prevailing theory is that those brains have hyper-connectivity between sensory areas in the brain. (source, source)

65. The human brain is extraordinarily complex and consequently can go awry in some astonishing ways. Some of the oddest disorders include exploding head syndrome disorder (hearing phantom explosions in our heads), Capgras syndrome (thinking our loved ones have been substituted by robots, impostors, or aliens), and Cotard’s syndrome (believing we are dead). (source)

66. Savant syndrome is a condition where people with severe mental disabilities have an “island of genius.” The most common areas of genius fall into one of these categories: music, art, mathematics, mechanical, or spatial skills. (source)

67. Most savants are born this way, but a brain trauma can lead to an acquired savant syndrome where ordinary individuals suddenly develop genius-level abilities they did not have before. (source)

68. Brain cells need a constant supply of fuel to stay alive, but they cannot store energy. Luckily, there is a backup system. Your liver breaks down stored fat to produce ketone bodies which can be used as a substitute fuel when commonly-used blood glucose isn't available. (source, source)

69. The brain in your head is not your only brain. There is a “second brain” in your intestines which contains 100 million neurons. Gut bacteria are responsible for making more than 30 neurotransmitters including the “happy molecule” serotonin. (source)

70. Some scientists claim that zombies could be created. They believe it is possible that a mutated virus or parasites could attack the human brain and rapidly spread throughout large populations, essentially leading to a “zombie apocalypse.” (source, source)

71. It’s not your imagination. Apple devices’ users are different than those that use Android products. MRIs show that Apple products stimulate the “god spot” in their users’ brains — the same part of our brains activated by religious imagery in people of faith. (source)

72. Few facts about the brain are as strange as the posthumous story of Albert Einstein’s brain. The pathologist who performed Einstein’s autopsy kept the brain in a jar in his basement for 40 years. Eventually, he made a cross-country trip with the brain in a Tupperware container to deliver it to Einstein’s granddaughter. You can read the full story about one of the most bizarre road trips ever in Driving Mr. Albert: A Trip Across America with Einstein’s Brain. (source)

73) Lack of oxygen in the brain for 5-10 minutes results in permanent brain damage. (source)

74) Our brain keeps developing until our late 40s. (source)

75) New brain connections are created every time we form a memory. (source)

76) Our brain uses 20 percent of the total oxygen and blood in our body. (source)

77) There is a virus that attacks human DNA and makes people less intelligent, impairing brain activity, learning, and memory. (source)

78) When awake, your brain produces enough electricity to power a small light bulb. (source)

79) Violent homes have the same effect on kids' brains as combat on soldiers. (source)

80) According to science, even a small dose of POWER changes how your brain operates and diminishes empathy. (source)

81) You have Taste receptors in your stomach, intestines, pancreas, lungs, anus, testicles and your brain. (source)

82) Half of our genes describe the complex design of our brain, with the other half illustrating the organization of the other 98 percent of our body. (source)

83) The human brain has the same consistency as tofu. (source)

84) The smell of chocolate can increase theta brain waves, that triggers relaxation. (source)

85) The brain releases so much dopamine during our orgasms that a brain scan resembles that of a person on heroin. (source)

86) Forgetting is good for your brain: deleting unnecessary information helps your nervous system retain its plasticity. (source)

87) A baby's brain can use up to 50 percent of the total glucose supply, which might help explain why babies need so much sleep. (source)

88) "Sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia" is the scientific term for brain freeze. (source)

89) In 2015, the fourth most powerful supercomputer in the world(..) took forty minutes to simulate only one second of human brain activity. (source)

90) Long-term mobile phone use, significantly raises the risk of brain tumors, a study discovered. (source)

91) Sleep deprivation affects our brain in multiple ways that can impair judgment and slow reaction. (source)

92) According to scientists, the brain treats rejection as physical pain. (source)

93) It only takes six minutes for brain cells to react to alcohol. (source)

94) When you learn something new, your brain’s structure changes. (source)

95) Male brains, on average, have a total volume that is between 8 percent and 13 percent larger than that of females. (source)

96) By 2023, the average US$1,000 laptop will be just as fast as the human brain, according to Ray Kurzweil. (source)

97) Music triggers activity in the same brain structure that releases the "pleasure chemical" dopamine during sex and eating. (source)

98) There are virtually no differences in brain anatomy between people with autism and those without. (source)

99) The feeling of Certainty can be triggered without the need for facts or reasoning, using electric stimulation over a specific part of the brain. (source)

100) We have more brain cells as a newborn baby than we will ever have again. (source)

Written by Katerina Papakyriakopoulou and edited by Katerina Botsiou ~ ThinkingHumanity.com


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Thinking Humanity: 100 Fascinating Facts About The Human Brain According To Science
100 Fascinating Facts About The Human Brain According To Science
The following brain facts dispel several brain myths that exist based on outdated knowledge. Below you can learn how the human brain works, for better (or worse). All the facts cite original references.
Thinking Humanity
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