Care and Feeding your Brain
Some things you wanted to know about your brain, but didn't know who to ask...
Your brain is the most amazing organ in the universe. No two brains are identical.
However, with that statement in mind, there are some general and genetic similarities.
- weighs about three pounds (think cantaloupe).
- can fit in a shoebox, (men's size 8).
- has two hemispheres; the left controls the right side of your body, the right controls the left side of your body. The hemispheres are connected by the Corpus callosum: a bridge of nerve fibers responsible for communication between them. The male brain is (a tiny bit) larger, but the Corpus callosum in the female brain is stronger (we can multi-task with greater efficiency).
- each hemisphere has several "lobes" - each lobe has a different function:
Frontal lobe deals with higher level thinking - located in the front of your brain
Occipital lobe deals with vision processing - located in the very back of your brain – (remember when you thought your mother had eyes in the back of her head?)
Parietal lobe deals with movement, orientation and some recognition – located at the top of your brain
Temporal lobe deals with sound and speech comprehension - located on the lower side around your ears (think headphones – what we used before ipods)
- has roughly 3, 976,849,217 (that's billion with a B) brain cells – called neurons.
- is comprised of about 78% water. Your brain does not function optimally if it is dehydrated. Your brain needs the recommended 6-8 glasses of water each day. Drink up! (Notice I did not say lemonade or soft drinks.)
- is the color of uncooked liver
- is the shape of a walnut
- is the consistency of cold butter (always wear a helmet) when cycling.
- is covered by a boney structure – the skull (always wear a helmet) when cycling.
- is covered by a rumpled outer layer called the cerebral cortex – the "gray matter". This cortex is responsible for abilities unique to humans such as abstract thought, memory and language. If this cortex were stretched out it would be the size of a page of your morning newspaper.
- has "plasticity," meaning it can be continuously changed (molded and shaped) until you die. (it's never too late to improve your brain function).
- has a "brain stem" that is a connection to the spinal cord which receives sensory input and monitors vital functions such as heartbeat, temperature, and digestion. (When was the last time you had to remind your brain to make your heart beat, eyes blink, breathe in and out?)
- has a small structure at the very base of the main mass of the brain called the cerebellum – or "little brain".
Please be aware that this is a micro explanation of the most complex organ in the universe. If your brain was likened to a computer: in today's technology, it would take a computer roughly the size of the state of Texas to replicate its functioning. Pretty amazing!