Neuroscience is coming up with cutting edge technologies and many different scientists believe that it is about time that they start trying to map the human brain. The human brain is complex and confusing, but also extremely important. If doctors want to learn how to better treat mental health issues and neurological issues, then getting a better understanding of how the brain works will be a good first step. From all the new research that is going into neuroscience, there are a probably many facts about the brain that you do not know.
You Can Actually Grow New Nerve Cells
Even as adults, your body can undergo neurogenesis, which the process that results in new nerve cells. The hippocampus in the center of your brain is responsible for learning, memory, mood, and emotions. It is also one of the structures where adult brains can generate new neurons. In fact, some have estimated that your hippocampus produces about 700 neurons every single day. Therefore, by the time you are 50 years old, you will have exchanged all the neurons in the hippocampus for adult neurons. Without this slow neuron renewal process, your memory and spatial recognition would not work properly.
There is also a correlation between neurogenesis and decreased levels of depression. Taking antidepressants actually seems to increase the rate of neurogenesis in your brain. It is unclear if antidepressants are causing neurogenesis or if the reduction in the depression caused by antidepressants is causing neurogenesis. However, recent studies suggest that you do need neurogenesis in order to prevent and manage depression. For example, the study shows that if you block neurogenesis, antidepressants will not work properly. Since neurogenesis is clearly beneficial to your health, you definitely want to find ways of promoting this process. Learning, good dieting habits, and exercise will promote neurogenesis, while deprivation, aging, and stress will slow it down.
You Use More than Ten Percent of Your Brain
It is a common misconception that humans only use a small portion of their brain. However, in truth, at any given times, chances are that you are using about 100% of your brain. While at rest, your brain may only use about 10% of its full capacity, but all that untapped gray matter is definitely used when you are not at rest. Most of the time, almost all of your brain is active, which is part of the reason that brain damage can have many serious effects on many aspects of your life.
While you can learn to live a normal life with brain damage, it is often harder because you do normally need to be using most of your brain at all times. Even extremely simple tasks like walking downstairs or reading a street sign requires your brain’s full capacity. Therefore, inaccessible brain tissue is not a good excuse for being less intelligent than Albert Einstein. While your brain may not necessarily be reaching its full potential from certain health concerns or lifestyle choices, you are still using every corner of your brain in order to survive.
Your Brain Might Be Able Repair Itself When Damaged
Unlike most other organs in your body, your brain cannot normally repair itself. Any accidents or illnesses that result in neurological damage will likely result in permanent handicaps. Your brain is capable of improving a little bit after being damaged, but the chances are high that you cannot make a full recovery. However, as a result of cutting edge technologies, after certain types of damage, you can still improve neurological function. You can implant circuits into your brain to improve function and help you manage Parkinson’s disease, tremors, and severe pain. This procedure is not true neurological repair because it requires the implantation of a mechanical device, but it does carry out the functions of what a theoretically repaired brain would be able to do.
However, research shows that true brain repair is not so far away. Your brain has certain cells that were important during fetal development, but scientists do not really know what they are used for anymore. It is clear that these cells are more common around brain lesions and that, under the right conditions, they can actually help to make stem cells cultures. Preliminary evidence shows that implanting this type of stem cell culture in a damaged monkey brain can cause these stem cells to become mature neurons, replacing the damaged cells. It will take some time before scientists are sure that this procedure can work on humans as well.
Scientists Still Have No Idea What Dreams Are For
Dreams are bizarre occurrences that humans and some other type of animals seem to experience, but the science behind how and why dreams occur remains extremely unclear. Scientists do know that your prefrontal cortex has decreased activity during dreams, which is the part of your brain responsible for logic. As a result, you usually do not know that you are dreaming, even if your dream is weird and illogical. However, while experts know that this part of your brain is not involved in dreaming, they do not know much about the parts that are involved in dreaming. Very little is known about where dreams originate in your brain. Some believe that dreams actually originate from multiple locations in your brain.
Researchers also do not know why you dream, but experts have a few unproven suggestions. It might be to help you come up with solutions to problems you have in real life, to process your memories properly, to process your emotions properly, to prepare you for the future, or a combination of all four hypotheses. Nightmares are types of dream that often have a more clear origin, but there is still a lot that researchers do not know about them. Scientists do believe that nightmares are usually responses to anxieties and traumas. Whether or not nightmares actually help you in dealing with these stresses is unclear, but they do seem to occur as a result of stress.
There is still a lot to learn about the brain. However, scientists are starting to understand more than ever before. This understanding can help you get more educated about your brain and, eventually, the research will lead to advancements in the treatment of certain diseases.