Wednesday, September 10, 2008

10 Things You Might Not Know About Your Brain

Some cool trivia about the human brain in this article from the Chicago Tribune.

10 things you might not know about your brain

1. Every day we have around 6,000 thoughts; most of them are repeats.

2. Because the brain is made up of 60 percent fat, it's exceptionally susceptible to toxic damage. Pesticides, herbicides, hormones, pollutants and medications—any substance that can dissolve in oil—can easily cross from the blood into the brain and cause harm.

3. There's no scientific evidence that listening to Mozart makes babies smarter. Intelligence improves if children create music by learning an instrument, rather than listening passively.

4. To hear better on your cell phone, cover the mouthpiece. This enhances the brain's ability to separate different signals from each other.

5. Blind people don't have better hearing, but they do have better memories, especially for language.

6. To get rid of "brain freeze" from eating ice cream too fast, press your thumb or tongue against the roof of your mouth, behind the front teeth. The warmth will stop the pain.

7. No one knows why yawns are contagious, but it could be a way to signal to others that it's important to remain alert in certain situations. Babies don't yawn contagiously until they're about 1 year old. Dogs yawn in stressful situations; you can sometimes calm your dog by yawning. And yawning can occur in people in a vegetative coma.

8. Your brain uses about as much energy as a refrigerator light.

9. Memory starts to get worse when you hit your 30s.

10. Alcohol in moderate doses doesn't kill mature neurons, but in a fetus, even a brief elevation in blood alcohol is enough to cause some neurons to die.

(BONUS!) 11. >When Einstein's brain was compared with the average person's, it was indistinguishable in size.

Sources: "Welcome to Your Brain" by Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang (Bloomsbury, $24.95), "Why You Shouldn't Eat Your Boogers" By Francesca Gould (Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, $12.95), "Optimum Nutrition for the Mind" by Patrick Holford (Basic Health Publications, $17.95), "The Brain Trust Program" by Larry McCleary (Perigee, $14.95).

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