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22 Facts about the Brain

  1. Déjà vu (French for “already seen”) has never been fully explained, though some scientists believe that a neurological glitch causes an experience to be registered in the memory before reaching consciousness.
  2. While Einstein’s brain weighed 1,230 grams, which is within normal human range, the brain had no parietal operculum in either hemisphere and had an enlarged Sylvan fissure. Certain parts of his brain also had more glial cells in relation to neurons.
  3. The brain takes the longest of any organ to develop and goes through more changes than any other organ.
  4. The human brain weighs approximately 3.0 pounds. Human skin (all three layers) weighs approximately 20 pounds, intestines 7.5 pounds (large intestine: 4.0 lbs., small intestine: 3.5 lbs.), lungs 5 pounds (2.5 lbs. each), the liver 3.2 pounds, and the heart 0.6 pounds.
  5. What appears as random bursts of light when people hit their heads is actually caused by a jolt to the brain cells responsible for vision. Stars most often appear following a blow to the back of the head because that is the location of the visual cortex.
  6. Eyeballs are a direct physical extension of the brain.
  7. While awake, a human brain can generate enough energy to power a light bulb (between 10-23 watts).
  8. Adults have between 125-150 ml of cerebrospinal fluid. An infant has 50 ml. The total volume of cerebrospinal fluid is replaced three to four times per day with a rate of production of .35 ml/min, or 500 ml/day.
  9. The human brain does not stop maturing until a person's late 40s. The prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that makes us human, develops in early childhood, is rearranged in late adolescence, and keeps developing for decades afterwards.
  10. The first description of the anatomy of the brain is found in the 1700 B.C. Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus, but it most likely contains information that was much older, perhaps from a thousand years earlier. In the document, ancient Egyptian doctors describe 26 different head injuries and treatments, wrinkles and fluids in the brain, its outer wrapping, and even the fluid inside it.
  11. A human brain is 75% water and has the consistency of tofu or gelatin.
  12. In 1862, Paul Broca determined the location of the speech center in the brain when he dissected the brain of a man who could only say “Tan! Tan!” and discovered that the left side of his brain had been eaten away by disease. The section of the brain responsible for speech was named “Broca” in honor of his research.
  13. Eduard Hitzig (1839-1907) and Gustav (1838-1927) Fritsch discovered that the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body and vice versa.
  14. President John F. Kennedy’s sister, Rosemary, was given a lobotomy for her mild retardation. A famous actress named Frances Farmer was given a lobotomy to make her easier to get along with, even though she may not have been mentally insane. Howard Dully discovered late in life that he had been lobotomized in 1960 at the age of 12 by Walter Freeman—simply because, it appears, his stepmother didn’t like him but she convinced Freeman something was wrong with the boy.
  15. Scientists claim that the most complicated and mysterious thing in the universe is the human brain. Scientists know more about stars exploding billions of light years away than they know about the brain.
  16. During the first few weeks of life, a babbling baby utters almost every sound of every known language. Later, the ability to make some sounds vanishes, which is a case of neural pruning.
  17. The brain does not have any pain receptors and, consequently, cannot feel pain.
  18. Wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of brain injury by as much as 80%.
  19. The human brain has around 100,000 miles of blood vessels.
  20. The human brain consists of 60% fat, making it one of the fattiest organs in the body.
  21. Humans have more brain cells at the age of two than at any other time of their lives.
  22. The sense of smell connects to the part of the brain that also controls emotions and memories. This is why smells often evoke strong memories.

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