Brain

Brain
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Amazing Facts
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Imagine every person in New York, picking up the phone and calling every person in the New York Phone book. Now imagine this occurring in every major city throughout the world. That is still less than the number of messages delivered by the brain within a single second. The brain accomplishes this colossal workload by distributing it among 100 billion cells. We have the most advanced brain of any animal on Earth. It exists within 85 cubic inches of space, weighs 3 pounds and is the largest brain in relation to body size of any other creature known to exist.

Brain Stem

The 3-inch long upper end of the spinal cord, composed of the medulla oblongata, pons, and midbrain. The reticular formation is a concentrated cluster of neurons running through all three portions of the brainstem, receiving signals from sense receptors and controlling consciousness.


Medulla Oblongata

  • Controls involuntary actions such as respiration, heart rate, blood pressure, gastric movements, swallowing, sneezing, coughing, etc.
  • The relay station for 5 cranial nerves
  • The grand pathway for hundreds of millions of sensory and motor nerves connecting the brain to the spinal cord.
  • The place at which most sensory and motor nerves cross from one side of the body to the other, so the brains left side controls the body's right side and vice-versa.

Pons (Latin for "bridge")

  • Controls saliva and tears
  • The relay station for neurons
  • Connects each hemisphere of the cerebrum to the hemisphere of the cerebellum on the opposite side.

Mid Brain

  • The relay station for neurons

Cerebellum (the "little brain")

The cerebellum monitors information from muscles, tendons, joints, and the inner ear to control posture, coordination and balance, and is likely involved with the emotional development of feelings such as anger and pleasure. Everything you do, from drinking a glass of water to playing the piano, proceeds smoothly primarily because of this wrinkly section of the brain.

Cerebrum (forebrain)

The largest portion of the brain split into two hemispheres and composed of an inner cerebrum and an outer cerebrum.

Inner Cerebrum (Inner Forebrain or Diencephalon)
The area of primarily gray matter above the brain stem surrounding the interior surface of the ventricles (brain cavities) including the thalamus and hypothalamus.

  • Thalamus
    The sensory coordinator, processing and organizing info from the ears, eyes, mouth and skin as it is sent to the higher sections of the brain associated with thought.
  • Hypothalamus
    Controls thirst, hunger, sweating, shivering and other processes essential to life. The hypothalamus has a direct link to the pituitary gland, which hangs underneath it. The pituitary gland is the master gland that controls all other glands. However the all-mighty hypothalamus controls the pituitary gland.
  • Limbic System
    Certain structures within the inner cerebrum, including the thalamus, make up the Limbic System, a wishbone shaped area encircling the brain stem associated with emotions and memory...

Diagram coming soon pointing out...

  • Septum Pellucidum - pleasure
  • Amygdaloid Body - aggression
  • Cingulate Gyrus - memory
  • Hippocampus - memory
  • Thalamus - organizer
  • Mammillary Body - organizer
  • Fornix - links parts of the limbic system with each other and with the rest of the brain.
  • Anterior Commissure - links parts of the limbic system with each other and with the rest of the brain.

Outer cerebrum (outer forebrain)
The source of human thought and creativity, holding 7/10ths of the bodies neurons

Cerebral Cortex
The outer layer of the outer cerebrum, composed of gray matter.

  • This is the portion of the brain primarily responsible for our high level of intelligence.
  • Contains half a billion nerve cells
  • Contains 620 miles of connecting fibers for every cubic half inch!
  • Characterized by a high degree of folding and wrinkles, which supply a huge surface area, and an organization of lobes associated with certain functions...

Diagram coming soon: Info from the eyes is processed in the occipital lobes. Sensory input from the tongue, lips, face, head, hands, trunk, arms, legs and feet is processed where the frontal and parietal lobes meet. Next door to this, muscle movement is controlled from the frontal lobes. Processed sensations, from the previous three areas, flow to areas of the frontal, parietal and temporal lobes, where these sensations are converted into conceptual thought. Areas at the very front of the brain help control personality and intellect. Speaking and understanding speech is controlled in the left cerebral hemisphere. Visual recognition is controlled in the right.

User's Manual

Memory

Memory plays a crucial role in our success. Our ability to remember names, faces, facts, numbers, words, speeches, details, instructions, directions, appointments, and any other type of information allows us to achieve better grades, higher paychecks, and greater success in life. It’s well known scientifically that memory is a learned skill. Everyone has massive potential to greatly improve their memory function.


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Wear a helmet when jarring your head is a possibility. For most day to day activities the cerebrospinal fluid in which your brain floats, and the protective bone of the skull is enough to prevent damage to the brain. However, whenever you risk trauma to the head, as in skateboarding, cycling, motorcycle riding, snowmobiling, ATV (all-terrain-vehicle) riding, skydiving, rock climbing, etc., you need to wear a helmet to avoid life-threatening injury. When picking out a helmet, make sure it has a shock absorbing material such as the Styrofoam of a bicycle helmet. This material is designed to break upon impact so your skull doesn't have to, in much the same way as a race car is designed to fly apart during a collision so the driver doesn't have to "fly apart."

Exercise. Participate in physical activities, especially those requiring thought and strategy. These types of activities increases blood flow to the brain, supplying it with a bath of oxygen, and resulting in mental quickness.

Mix it up. Try things you haven't done before. Engage your mind using games, creative activities and reading. The more parts of your brain you stimulate the more neural connections you make. Thus the more versatile and complex your brain will become. Certain activities are hard to resist and thus occupy a large portion of our time. While you participate in this single activity you are neglecting the other parts of your brain that need stimulation to stay strong. For example, video games are fun and addictive. Many people really enjoy video games and can become immersed in the story lines, advanced moves, secret codes or passageways, and the thrill they get from the action. Video games do exercise hand-eye coordination and memory, and might quicken your reaction time. However after a while, playing a game can become almost automatic, requiring little brain activity to play. The skills you learn can often only be applied within the game itself and have little usefulness in your daily life. We're not recommending that you stop playing video games. Video games are fun and entertaining. However, we do recommend that you exercise other parts of your brain as well, not to mention your body if you want to have success in life. In addition to exercising your brain, mixing up your activities and stimuli will help you explore and find areas of your brain for which you hold a knack or talent. Just imagine if your brain was designed to become a best-selling author and you never tried writing a story.

Avoid exercise or activities that repetitively causes concussion (temporary loss of consciousness from a blow to the head). Whenever the head is violently jarred the brain can hit the skull. Although this doesn't produce bruising or visible damage, each blow produces microscopic damage to the nerve connections. Repetitive jarring, such as that in professional boxing, can result in cerebral atrophy. This causes weakness in the lower limbs, unsteady walking, slowness of muscular movements, shaking hands, hesitancy in speech, and an overall slower brain. We're not saying you shouldn't learn martial arts or try an extreme sport such as snow boarding. You can learn martial arts without beating yourself senseless. If you have a knack for snowboarding, then all the power to you. If you don't have a knack for a sport and find yourself repetitively jarring your head and losing consciousness, do yourself a favor and find another sport that you do have a knack for. As a rule, be conservative when injury is a definite possibility. For instance, don't go skiing into the moguls before you've mastered a couple consecutive jumps, and don't try a large jump until you've mastered a little one.

Drink at least 8 glasses of water or juice every day. A mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on the computer screen or on a printed page.

Be sure to get your share of B vitamins
B6, found in practically anything, enhances long-term memory ability. Large amounts of B6 are found in carrots, chicken, eggs, fish, meat, peas, spinach, sunflower seeds, walnuts, and whole wheat.
It's also found in oats, tuna, avocado, bananas, beans, broccoli, brown rice, cabbage, cantaloupe, corn, potatoes, rice bran, soybeans and alfalfa.

B12 aids visual identification.
Large amounts of B12 are found in clams, eggs, herring, liver, mackerel, milk, other dairy products and seafood.
It's also found in alfalfa, soybeans and soy products.

The brain, like a muscle, gets stronger with use, so challenge yourself intellectually. People with a college education that remain mentally challenged throughout their life have up to 40% longer dendrites than people with less than a high school education and mentally inactive lives. Dendrites promote sophisticated processing. Many scientists believe that longer dendrites can receive and understand more information. So not only is it beneficial to challenge your mind with reading and learning now, but it is equally important to plan and prepare yourself for a future job that incorporates challenging thought and problem solving skills in order to keep yourself mentally sharp.

Maintain your heart to avoid stroke (blockage of blood flow to the brain). Like many parts of your body, what's good for the heart is good for the brain. Exercise increases the blood flow and oxygen supply to the brain as well as supplies more glucose, which is the brain's fuel, essential to clear thinking. Also high blood pressure may rob you of brain tissue! People with hypertension exhibit less white-matter brain tissue (the tissue representing the main wiring of the brain). This tissue loss can cause short-term memory loss, problems with language and sense of direction, and a slower processing of information. So avoid covering your food with salt, avoid too many saturated fats like in butter and oils, keep your weight at a healthy level and as usual don't smoke.

Vitamin E helps prevent stroke and heart attack also, by making platelets less prone to clotting. So we recommend eating moderate amounts of nuts, most of which contain Vitamin E.

Eat well-rounded meals with meat and veggies to get your needed minerals. Boron, found in pears, grapes, nuts and tomatoes, and zinc, found in oysters, herring, wheat bran, milk, lean pork and veal, may help maintain attention, memory and motor skills. Make sure you get plenty of protein from foods like turkey, chicken, lean beef or fish which contains the amino acid tyrosine, linked to clear thinking and alertness. Without tyrosine, you may start resembling the dazed look of a cow as opposed to the alert look of the wolf.

Don't expect to be a genius after a big meal. Your body directs a large portion of blood to your digestive tract at the expense of your brain and muscles. That's why you feel tired after a hefty meal. This doesn't mean you should starve yourself before an exam. Instead place your main meal well before the exam and grab a small snack for energy, vitamins and minerals closer to exam time.

Less Coffee, More Sleep. Although it wakes you up, 3 or more cups have been shown to decrease your attention-span, reduce your ability to concentrate and produce a late-afternoon fogginess due to caffeine withdrawal. If you're already hooked, wean yourself off by mixing your brew with increasing amounts of decaf. The best provider of early morning energy is a well balanced diet and adequate sleep. A person who averages the recommended 8 hours of sleep should not even need an alarm to wake up on time! Furthermore, dreaming helps cement memories of new information, and a person doesn't dream well if they sleep under 8 hours or if their sleeping is disrupted. To cure this, use a good quality pillow. If you fold the pillow and it stays folded, throw it out. The added quality of sleep you receive will allow you to perform newly learned tasks faster and better the next morning.

Force yourself outside of old habits to become more flexible mentally and enhance your creativity. Rearrange your clothes closet. Wear your watch on your other wrist. Brush your teeth with the other hand. Read a book on an unfamiliar subject. Take up a martial art or Latin dancing. Or try mental exercises, like spending 3 minutes creatively dreaming up every potential use for a _____. (insert an object like paperclip, clothes hanger, coin, etc.)

Avoid mentally draining drugs. Antihistamines, used to treat your sinuses, allergies, headaches and colds, can cause drowsiness and impair thought processes. High blood pressure medications such as beta blockers and calcium channel blockers, used in young people to prevent migraines, may cause fatigue and dim your mental performance. Pain-relievers, like ibuprofen and codeine, cause drowsiness. Antinausea agents, used to prevent motion-sickness, can also cause drowsiness. Cough syrups with dextromethorphan, diphenhydramine, alcohol or a title named "elixer" will also cause drowsiness.

Alcohol kills brain cells. Long time alcoholics are subjected to memory loss, hallucinations and paranoia. Never let drinking alcohol become a habit.

Before exams listen to classical music and wear a calming perfume or cologne. This can relax you, improve your mood and allow you to focus more effectively.

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Amazing Facts

  • One piece of brain tissue the size of a pinhead may contain up to five million cells.
  • It is the advanced development our brain, especially the forebrain which separates humans from animals in the eyes of scientists.
  • The left side of the brain controls voluntary muscles on the right side of the body, while the right side of the brain controls voluntary muscles on the left side of the body.
  • Out of the hundred million impulses that assault the brain every second, only about a hundred impulses per second are allowed to reach above the brain stem. This way you don't have to be constantly informed as to how your shoes feel upon your feet or the way a strand of your own hair feels against your skin.
  • The left side of the brain is associated with language, numbers, scientific skills and reasoning, while the right side is associated with art, music, imagination, insight, and understanding three-dimensional forms. This is why logical people such as scientists are generally described as left brain, while creative people such as artists are generally described as right brain, and medical illustrators like the one who illustrated this section are described as left and right brain.

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