o The Frog Blog: Science Fact of the Week 31 - The Brain

Monday, 12 October 2009

Science Fact of the Week 31 - The Brain


The human brain — a spongy, 1400 g mass of fatty tissue — has been compared to a telephone switchboard and a supercomputer. But the brain is much more complicated than either of these devices, a fact scientists confirm almost daily, with each new discovery. The extent of the brain’s capabilities is unknown, but it is the most complex living structure known in the universe. This single organ controls body activities, ranging from heart rate and sexual function to emotion, learning, and memory. Ultimately, it shapes our thoughts, hopes, dreams, and imaginations. In short, the brain is what makes us human.

About 75% of brain cells are in place before birth and the other 25% are in place by the age of 1 year. In fact, during early pregnancy neurons (nerve cells) multiply at a rate 250,000 neurons per minute during early pregnancy. A newborn baby's brain grows almost 3 times in the course of the first year. The brain continues to produce neurons throughout our lives and the average brain consists of about 100 billion neurons. Amazingly, your brain uses 20% of your body's energy, but it makes up only 2% of your body's weight. It needs a lot of oxygen too, and about 750ml of blood pumps through your brain every minute! In turn, it generates 25 watts of power while you're awake; enough to illuminate a light bulb. The brain is divided into two sides. The left side of your brain controls the right side of your body; and the right side of your brain controls the left side of your body. All this, yet the human brain is approximately 75% water.

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