March E-News: Science on the Brain!

The Brain is an amazing piece of hardware. It is like a supercomputer that can solve problems, receive and respond to messages, create stories, and play video games. Can you believe that your brain along with the nervous system does all that, and more? It is so much more than a computer.

Your brain does the thinking. The approximate amount of thoughts the brain processes a day is 70,000 thoughts. It sends important messages through your nervous system. You don’t even have to think of things yourself. Your brain does it for you. For example, it tells you to breathe, do you ever think about breathing? Even while you are sleeping, it gives your body the signal to keep breathing. It tells your legs to walk to get to the kitchen because the microwave is beeping and you need to get your popcorn, or maybe run with the football instead of being tackled.

Ever wonder why you feel out of control with emotion? That is because your brain controls feelings. Like when you feel happy or sad, love or anger, including fear. These are all signals from your brain. Think about it. Do you have to think before you want to be happy or sad? No, when an event or situation occurs your brain says good or bad. It tells you to smile or cry.


The brain is made of about 100 billion nerve cells. To put this in perspective, you have the same amount of nerve cells in your brain as the galaxy stars! Our brain looks similar to a blob of grayish-pink jelly with a wrinkly surface, divided into sections. Blood vessels carry oxygen and nutritive substances to the brain cells and also remove waste.

The skull is the bone that protects the brain. There is also, tissue-like skin and liquid that is a barrier between the brain and skull. When you’re born your brain only weights 3/4 of a pound and will grow to be about 3 pounds by the time you reach adulthood.  Albert Einstein’s brain actually weighed less than the average brain, weighting in at 2.71 pounds. Knowing that, you might just wish your brain was smaller!

Did you know that when a woman is pregnant, the baby’s brain is growing so quickly at one stage, the tiny brain is producing a quarter of a million new baby neurons every minute! That is why an expectant mother gets so tired. 


Our amazing brain is divided into three major parts. They are called the cerebrum, the cerebellum, and last but not least, the brain stem. The larger portion is the cerebrum. In back, beneath the cerebrum sits the cerebellum. And the brain stem is attached to the spinal cord at the bottom back part of the brain.

Now you need to know that the cerebrum and the cerebellum are sectioned into two parts. They are what we refer to as the right brain and the left brain. Can you guess which side controls which side of your body? Well, as they say opposites attract. The right side of your brain works for the left side of the body and the left side of the brain works for the right side of the body. The nerves cross over from the right and left side of the body and cross again as they reach the brain.

And did you know that the left side of your brain has 186 additional neurons than the right side of your brain? I don’t know about you but I’m feeling a little lopsided.


The cerebrum is the biggest portion of the brain. The cerebrum deciphers troubles and composes your needs. It’s kind of like a Genie in a bottle that grants wishes! 

This is where all the thinking takes place. The language you speak and the expression of emotions all come from your cerebrum. Especially from your cerebral cortex that is on the outside of your cerebrum. Here are a few facts about the cerebral cortex:

  • If you were to stretch the cerebral cortex out it measures 2 and 1/2 square feet. That is the equivalent to the area of your average night stand. Think about that when you roll over in bed tonight!
  • 85% of the brain is comprised of the cerebral cortex. If you want a little more detail about the cerebral cortex, the percentage of the actual volume is in the frontal lobe at 41%, the temporal lobe at 22%, the parietal lobe at 19%, and the occipital lobe at 18%.

Back to the cerebrum, this is the indicator of the senses. Signals are carried via the nerves. These signals are what allow you the ability to smell, taste, and feel. All, this from the cerebrum! Now, wave your hands in the air and wave them like you just don’t care. Your cerebrum did that.


Cerebellum’s the name and balance is its game.

Your body movements are synchronized and harmonized by the cerebellum. It takes a cerebellum to hit a home run. Your cerebrum will tell your hands and arms to move, but your cerebellum will coordinate for precision in order for you to drive it out of the yard. Yea!

Here’s a fun fact: The cerebellum makes up only 10% of the brain, but holds up to half the neurons in the entire brain.


While you’re doing all the things you think are important, your brain stem is at work keeping you alive and doing the things you don’t even think about. Do you even think about it when touching something excruciatingly hot? Most likely, no. You innately pull back without even thinking.

Most importantly the brain stem keeps the heart pumping, the lungs breathing, and eyes blinking so you can worry about other things. Like whether you remembered to bring your lunch today.


You know the system that your brain, nerves, and spinal cord run through to reach your entire body. It carries messages and signals to all your organs and muscles. If it didn’t you would be something of a mess. All your nerves are packaged and make up the 17 inches of the spinal cord that travels down our back. These nerves are coordinated throughout the body to the different areas that need to receive important messages. Like which hand you use to write with. Of course, your spinal cord has protection. The backbone always has its back. Get it? Back.


Your brain uses 20 percent of your entire body’s energy, even though it is only 2 percent of your body weight. That explains why I get more tired solving a difficult math problem than playing a good game of basketball.

If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. Studies show that by stimulating your mind daily, your brain will strengthen and grow to meet new challenges. Maintaining a strong brain will prevent some types of mental illnesses.  So, give your brain a daily workout. There are a lot of brain teasers or brain games that you can play to upkeep your thinker. Boosting your thought processing, memory, and reasoning skills will keep you in shape for the long haul.

The brain shrinks 0.25% in mass each year following the age of 30. Bet those brain exercises look good right about now.

The brain is a vital part of your body. Its function reflects in your life and the lives of others. Maintain a healthy brain to have knowledge and share knowledge. It is important to be aware and care. Brain is power!

March 10th – 16th marks the 2013 National Brain Awareness Week. Each year, the global scientific community comes together to recognize and celebrate the behind-the-scenes efforts to learn, research, discover, map & further understand the human brain & it’s functions. The world-wide brain buzz celebration brings neuroscience into the spotlight & continues to inspire the next generation of scientists. We encourage you to take advantage of this celebration & use the week to learn about more than the basic brain functions but discover how remarkable the human brain really is!

Get Thinking with these Great Resources! 

The Dana Foundation: The Official Home of National Brain Awareness Week! 

National Geographic: Your Amazing Brain! Learn About your Incredible Brain! 

10 Amazing Tricks to Play on Your Brain

Society for Neuroscience: Awesome Tools & Resources to Get Inside Your Head! 

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