YOUR WEEKLY DOSE OF WOWZERS AND WONDER FROM THE NATURAL WORLD
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The topic of this week’s issue is a real thinker.
It involves a part of your body that you’ll never see but is tracking everything you do.
It’s only about 2 percent of your total body weight, but you’d never be the same without it.
Know what it is?
That’s right, this week, we’re talking about the human brain!
A fully grown brain has an average weight of around 1.5 kilograms (or 3.3 lbs.)
Yet despite its relatively low weight, research estimates that it contains roughly 1 billion neurons — what we might call brain cells — and 100 to 1,000 trillion synapses — the tiny spaces between our brain cells which zip information around!
Your brain is at the centre of so many functions that we associate with being human. Thinking, emotions, senses, and so much more may start their journey at nerve endings or other receptors, but you experience them most fully when they reach your brain.
Pretty crazy, considering that your brain consists of nearly 60% fat!
In the first year of life, the average human brain will triple in size, allowing infants and toddlers to adapt to the world around them while learning new skills.
It doesn’t fully form until around the age of 25! That’s a whole lot of growing to do.
As you get older, your brain will actually start to shrink. While ages aren’t exact, brains tend to get smaller after the age of 40 or so. But don’t worry, there’s no evidence that smaller brains are any less effective than larger ones.
Your brain can use as much as 20% of your body’s total oxygen, so a healthier body means a healthier brain! Just remember to protect your brain when doing things like riding a bike or skateboarding.
Your brain serves as the core of much of your human abilities, and it’s made up of many highly specialized areas that focus on doing a few things well.
A few examples of what different regions (also called lobes) control include:
The occipital lobe: object recognition and vision
The temporal lobe: hearing and memory
The parietal lobe: touch, pain, taste, temperature, pressure, and other nerve-related signals
The frontal lobe: emotions, planning, creativity, and movement
If any of these areas are damaged, it can cause difficulties in performing tasks related to its specialty.
For an organ made mostly of fat, brains are pretty fascinating. We could make entire issues on each of the zones, the various terms, and how brains work yet still not cover everything there is to know. And neuroscientists (scientists who specialize in brains) continue to make discoveries about the brain every year.
So next time you’re deep in thought about something, take a minute to think about how amazing it is that we can even think at all!
According to Scientific American, all those neurons and synapses mean that we essentially have limitless storage in our brains. It’s just a matter of learning how to use it all!
Ever had a brain freeze? This happens when cold food or drink chills the blood vessels and arteries at the very back of your throat, causing pain in your forehead. The medical term for a brain freeze is sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia. Say that three times fast!
Humans only using 10% of their minds is simply a myth. While you will probably never use 100% of your brain at the same time, most areas of your brain see regular activity — even while you’re sleeping!
Brains are wired oddly. The part of your brain responsible for vision isn’t at the front near your eyes, it’s at the back! Also, your brain processes sound and vision on the opposite sides of where you see or hear things. So your left eye is processed by the right side of your brain and vice versa. So strange!
Learn about the brain and how it works with this quick explanation from SciShow Kids!
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We hope this week’s issue made you think a bit more about how you think! Speaking of which, we’d love to hear what you think about Wowzerful! If you have any feedback or have a topic you’d love to see explored, drop us a line!
Today’s email was written by Joshua J. with contributions by Geoff W. and Branden S.
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