Inside your head there is one of the most mysterious and complex mechanisms in our world and, probably, even in the whole Universe. This is your brain. It is sophisticated and incredibly well-thought apparatus which functions 24 hours a day without resting.
Just imagine how many dozens of functions it performs simultaneously! Right at the moment you are reading the text, holding the computer mouse or tapping on the laptop touchpad with your fingers, reaching your second hand out for a cup of coffee and hearing your little sibling coming into your room. Not to mention all other senses, feelings, thoughts and actions of yours which your brain has to analyze and support with great speed.
Our brain is considered to be that very organ which has made us the most intelligent species, living on the planet Earth. The most ingenious and malevolent ideas of all times have been born in the minds of our own kind. Life-saving medicine and nuclear weapon, classic symphonies and war strategies, as well as many other great and terrible things, were and are currently being created by human brains.
Do we ever think what a powerful tool we possess and utilize every day without even realizing its true potential? What is more, are we ready to find out what potential it really has?
Let’s try to lift the veil from the mysteries of our intelligent selves and face the facts.
You Actually Use Much, Much More Than 10% of Your Brain
The idea that people use about 10% of the natural opportunities their brains provide them with on a daily basis is attributed to Albert Einstein, William James and Dale Carnegie. It’s actually still a mystery why this particular percentage became so popular.
The thing is that until 2000s it wasn’t very clear what the 10% should be related to. Does it mean that only 10% of brain cells fulfill all vitally essential functions? Or is it the 10% of the general brain area activated in human’s normal condition?
Still, neuroscience has dotted the i’s finally. The studies proved that the very thinking process is actually provided by 10% of all brain cells, the so-called neurons which make up the gray matter. However, all 90% of other cells, known as support or glial cells, make up the white matter which provides neurons with nutritional and physical help.
The myth nonetheless lacks credibility. Computer research demonstrated that the entire brain of a simultaneous interpreter is highly active during the performance.
Can a Human Live Without Some Parts of Its Brain? Yes, It Can!
In 2014 it was reported that a 24-year-old woman was living an absolutely normal life without a cerebellum. Although she did suffer from uneven clumsy movements, she could hardly have an idea that the whole part of her brain was missing.
The strangest thing in this situation is that the cerebellum, situated at the brain’s back, is in fact responsible for regulating our movements. So, the question how the woman who didn’t have it at all could at least walk is more than complex even for modern scientists.
However, it proves that separate parts of our brain, or its hemispheres, can overtake one another’s functions in certain cases.
Our Brains Are Considered to Have Evolved to Control Our Movements
In 2011 Daniel Wolpert, a sensational British neuroscientist, delivered a striking speech, in which he claimed that the only reason why we have brains and why our brains have evolved is the natural need for movement.
In order to support his idea, Daniel set the following example: the sea squirt is a rudimentary sea creature with a nervous system that has quite an active lifestyle, swimming across the salt waters, until it finds a rock to implant on and never leave. Once the shelter is found and implanted, the sea squirt begins digesting its brain! As it just doesn’t need it to swim anymore.
So, the scientist is convinced that the most important function of animals’ brains, including human ones, is to produce and support adaptable, coordinated and complex movement.
Unconsciousness Is the Sources of Human Brain’s Activity
Professor of the Hebrew University in Israel, Ran Hassin, together with the team of his colleagues conducted a series of experiments to define where human consciousness limits.
By using continuous flash suppression, the technology that allows to make participants’ minds accept and process the given information without their being consciously aware of it, Hassin could prove that a lot of conscious actions can be and are performed by the unconscious mind.
Such technology uses glasses which show the participants a different picture in each eye. So, at first Hassin showed them a simple math question: 9-4-3=? Immediately after that they were showed a certain target number which they were asked to read out loud as soon as they could. The number could be either the right answer 2 or the wrong answer 1.
The results were unexpected. It took less time for the participants to read the right number than the wrong one. This means their math skills helped their unconscious mind solve the problem much earlier than their conscious mind was provided with the answers to read.
Learning a Foreign Language Increases the Size of Your Brain
A Swedish study conducted in 2012 discovered that the brain of a person who learns a second language is bigger than the one of a person who doesn’t. Using MRI and electrophysiology, a group of researchers measured young recruits’ brains at the Swedish Armed Forces Interpreter Academy before they started learning a foreign language and after the certain period of training.
The researchers were surprised to find out that depending on whether the students made progress in their studies and tried their best to keep up with the language course, different parts of their brains appeared to get developed to different degrees.
When You Are Sleeping, Your Brain Continues Working Even Harder
For a scientific project presented in 1964 Randy Gardner stayed awake for about 11 days. But that was not the only one experiment to prove that a human needs sleep.
However, why do we need it so much if our brain can get even more active while our muscles are resting? And why lack of sleep can have very negative consequences?
Although the answer to these and many other questions aren’t very definite today, our brain needs us to go to bed at 11 p.m. to watch some dreams. First, it produces sleep. To be more precise, it generates slow-wave sleep (SWS) and dreaming or rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
Mostly, our sleeping is of the first variety. But when if in the morning you realize that you were dreaming, it means that you had the REM sleep. The mechanisms and purposes of the latter remain a mystery until nowadays.
So, what do you think now? It seems like it’s time to reconsider some of our ideas on intelligence, health and life.