Facts About the Brain

At Birth, Babies Lose Half of Their Neurons
Estimates suggest that nearly half of a baby’s neurons are lost before they are even born. These neurons are eliminated by a process known as pruning where these neurons receive insufficient input from other neurons.


Infants Vocabulary Increases from Baby Talk
According to a study of the vocabulary of children, there is a correlation between an increased vocabulary and mothers who spoke frequently with their babies. In fact, the children who were spoken to on a regular basis learned nearly 300 more words by 24 months compared to children whose mothers spoke to them less frequently.


Your Eyes have Blind Spots
The exit point where the optic nerve exists your retina (as a single bundle) creates a blind spot in the eye because there are no receptor cells at this point of the retina. Because there is no overlap in the image that our eyes form, we seldom become aware of these blind spots. It is possible for your ophthalmologist to identify the blind spots during an exam when your eye that is not being tested is closed.


Measurements of the Brain are Revealing
Electroencephalogram, or EEG, is a non-invasive technique that records minor electrical activity changes in your brain through electrodes that are attached to the surface of your scalp. EEG detects tiny fluctuations to determine if a person is sleeping and this is especially useful for scientists who are studying sleep and it can reveal some very interesting information about brain functions and processes.


20% of Your Blood is Used by Your Brain
Did you know that nearly twenty percent of your blood is pumped from your heart to your brain? In order to meet the heavy metabolic demands of your neurons, your brain requires a steady flow of blood. The neural activity and blood flow association provides the foundation for brain imaging techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging, also known as fMRI. This relationship makes it possible to produce imagery of inferred brain activity.


Your Brain Uses 20% of the Oxygen You Breathe
Twenty percent of the Oxygen you breathe in is used by your brain and is crucial for survival. Even though your brain accounts for only 2% of your body’s mass the level of Oxygen your brain requires is vital and even a loss of 10 minutes can cause significant damage to neural system.


Your Brain Grows Rapidly in the First Month of Life
The number of connections or synapses in an infant’s brain increase rapidly from fifty trillion to one quadrillion in the first month of life. To put things in perspective, if a baby’s body grew at a similar rate then at one month old, the infant’s weight would increase from 8.5 pounds to 170 pounds.


Your Ears Emit Sounds
Believe it or not, healthy ears emit sounds and although these sounds are very soft most of the time, it is possible for the sounds that are emitted to be heard by others. Interestingly, these sounds are usually not heard by the individual whose ears are emitting the sounds. There is still speculation as to what exactly causes these sounds although some think that the sounds are generated from the input of the central nervous system.


Reptiles Yawn Too!
As humans, we are all familiar with yawning however did you know that reptiles also yawn? It’s true that reptiles, birds, and of course mammals all yawn. Brain chemicals called neurotransmitters are responsible for this behaviour and some neurotransmitters, act in the hypothalamus can induce and control yawning such as nitric oxide and dopamine.


The "Little Brain"
Your cerebellum also called “little brain” is located at the lower back of the brain and weighs a mere 150 grams. This “little brain” is the key to performing coordinated movements, walking and maintaining posture. Some also believe that it has a part in smell or olfaction.


Looking Through a Small Hole
By looking through a tiny hole with one eye open nearsighted individuals are usually able to read the lettering on distant signs. This is possible because the light that enters the person’s eye is focused from the small hole which mimics or replaces the eye’s own lens functions.


Many Miles and Miles of Neurons
The brain houses 100 billion neurons – that’s right billion! If you were to place one hundred billion pieces of paper on top of each other the resulting paper tower would be 5000 miles high. That’s the distance from London, England to San Francisco, California!


Infants are Able to Distinguish Speech Very Early
Did you know that newborns as young as only 4 days old are able to differentiate between the vowel sounds of a foreign language and those of their natural environment?


Octopus Does Not Have Blind Spot
The Octopus has a single layer of receptor cells that project images back to the brain through the optic nerve. The Octopus doesn’t have blind spots because their optic nerves do not pass through the receptors but instead from behind them.


Brain Feels No Pain
Unlike most areas of your body, your brain doesn’t feel pain. For this reason, neurosurgeons are able to probe areas of a patient’s brain while they are awake. During these procedures, the feedback provided by the patient is very useful for identifying important areas of the brain.


Night Vision in Your Peripheral
Our peripheral vision is much better than our foveal (strait-on) vision at night because our photoreceptors that react best to dim light (rod cells) are primarily located in our retina’s periphery. This is why nighttime hikers will look slightly above the trail to find their way and pilots learn to look for traffic out of the sides of their eyes instead of only looking straight ahead.


Child Development is Stimulated by Reading Aloud
A child’s brain development is stimulated when reading aloud to them. Unfortunately only 50% of infants and kids are frequently read to aloud by their parents.


Why We Scratch an Itch
Although it is hard to avoid it usually feels very counter intuitive to scratch an itch when it appears to hinder a wound’s healing rather than speed up the process. Some theorize that we scratch an itch because it stimulates the release of endorphins which help to block pain sensations caused by the wound. When we scratch an itch we are injuring our skin even more; consequently our bodies release a lot of endorphins to block the pain. It is believed that this is why our biological response to scratch an itch is hard to avoid because it may actually be better for our healing process if we cannot feel the pain as much.


Working Memory is Full at Seven Digits
There is a reason that telephone numbers in Canada and some other countries around the world are seven digits long. Studies have demonstrated that our working memory – a newer concept than short-term memory and slightly different – that stores information for very brief periods (just long enough to understand them) can only hold a maximum of 7 digits on average. Essentially this length of time is just long enough to look up a telephone number and remember it to make the call.