The human brain features the same generalized structure as the brains of other mammals. However, it is bigger than other mammal brains with regard to body size. Big animals, including whales, elephants and gorillas have large brains, although they don’t have brains that that approach human size, with respect to the encephalization quotient, which is a mathematical formula that calculates brain size in relation to body size.
The human brain’s large size is attributable to its parts, such as the cerebral cortex (and its frontal lobes), which govern a range of important cognitive functions, including planning, using logic and exhibiting self-control. Because the cerebral cortex features a dense layer of brain tissue which covers a lot of the brain, it adds significant surface mass. The cerebral cortex has a quartet of lobes, which are known as the frontal lobe, the parietal lobe, the temporal lobe and the occipital lobe.
Human Brains are Fragile
Although human brains are shielded by the strong bones of the skull, while also being suspended within cerebrospinal fluid, they are ultimately quite fragile. Certain physical damage may occur in the brain, due to head injuries, strokes, poisons or chemicals (these are classified as neurotoxins). In addition, the human brain may become infected, although this is less common, because the brain has protection in place to fight these sorts of threats.
Lastly, the human brain may deteriorate via certain diseases, including Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, certain psychological problems, including schizophrenia and depression, are believed to be connected with brain dysfunction, although the complexities of this connection have not yet been completely revealed.
More Human Brain Facts
A human brain is capable of surviving for four to six minutes without air. For example, if someone is drowning, he or she must be rescued from underwater within this time frame in order to avoid brain death. Each brain weighs only two percent of a person’s complete body weight. However, since it is such an important organ, it takes up twenty percent of the human body’s energy. This energy is sufficient to power a 25-watt light bulb.
On average, a human brain will work through seventy thousand thoughts per day. Upon birth, every person has a similar amount of brain cells as they will in their adult years. However, these cells do get bigger, with cell maturity occurring around the age of six years old.
Baby Brain Facts
A newborn baby’s brain will triple in size during the first twelve months of life, and that’s why infants have a very large head size in relation to their small bodies. Babies' brains are fragile, due to a soft spot on the head, known as a fontanel. This spot allows for the bony plates of the brain to fuse together as the baby develops. A fetus in gestation will develop a sense of touch before he or she develops other senses. This usually happens in the lips and cheeks, around eight weeks of age. Later on, other senses develop and babies eventually enjoy full sensory experiences.
Exercise Improves Brain Function
People who exercise regularly will experience improved cognitive performance throughout their lives. Fitness is believed to be a boon to the aging brain. In other words, those who begin to embrace regular aerobic exercise in their later years will still be able to enjoy the brain-enhancing benefits of this form of physical activity.
Since brain shrinkage happens naturally with age, in some areas of the brain, research is being conducted which will hopefully determine whether or not exercise is powerful enough to retard or reverse such shrinkage.