There is no doubt our brains are an incredible organ and—until the last 15-20 years—probably one of the least understood in our bodies. Recently, I wrote a list of all the random questions I have about the human brain and have started doing some research to get answers and dispel urban myths. Here are 10 things I found most interesting.
Brain freeze is not actually brain freeze. Believe it or not (and I admit, it took some convincing for me), brain freeze is actually a referred pain from the roof of your mouth! It makes sense thinking through the mechanics…you eat something that is very cold with your mouth. And unless you rub ice cream on your head, the reaction to the cold temperature comes from your mouth, not your brain. Still, no one would argue that it doesn’t feel like your brain is freezing!
You have unlimited storage. Again, if you think through this, it makes sense…humans created the computer and studies show our brains are more powerful than the most powerful computers in use today. However, on a Friday morning with a third cup of coffee sitting in front of me, it doesn’t feel that way. It’s true though. The human brain has unlimited storage and is capable of doing 1016 things at once. More coffee is needed.
There is no such thing as “Left Brain / Right Brain.” This one disappointed me. As a lefty, I have grown fond of saying lefty’s are the only ones in their right mind. And while we do use certain parts of our brains to control different things, research shows we actually use our whole brain not just a left or right side.
Our average attention span is nine seconds SHORTER (yes, shorter) than the average goldfish. Since 2000, our attention span has gone from 12 to 8 seconds. Which also means half of you will stop reading this blog…now.
Today’s lifestyle has had a negative effect on our brain. The brain cannot focus on two things at once so we switch between things (like writing this blog and wondering if my coffee is getting cold). Multitasking has an impact on your brain health—it cuts down on your ability to learn and focus, and it can cause short-term memory loss.
A lot of blood flows through your brain…between 750-1000 ml per minute!
Until not too long ago, it was thought that a person was born with a set number of brain cells and a finite level of intelligence. However, science is now learning that is not true (maybe I should take the SAT’s again?). Due to a concept known as brain plasticity (topic for another blog), your brain can—and does—evolve over your lifetime and forms new brain cells.
Your brain has no pain receptors and therefore, cannot “feel” pain. So where do headaches come from, you ask? From muscles, joints and sinuses. But I refer you back to Fact #1.
OK this one…I’m not even sure what to say about this completely random fact. But according to research done for the documentary, “Secrets of the Superbrands,” there is a difference in the brains of people who use Apple products versus Android (I say this as I write on a MacBook Pro with an iPhone and iPad sitting next to me). An MRI study found that “Apple products stimulate the same part of the brain as religious imagery does in people of faith.” Talk about brand loyalty! Don’t believe me? Read more here.
As I try to cajole, convince and guilt myself into working out, this might be my favorite fact of all…ninety minutes of sweating can shrink your brain more than a year of aging does. Granted the shrinkage is temporary, but still. To spin class or not, that is the question! (Just kidding, exercise is good for you!)