Alcohol And The Brain
Long-term alcoholism can lead to a number of health problems, including brain damage.
It is not, however, as simple as saying that drinking alcohol kills brain cells this is a myth. The reasons for this are complicated.
If a woman drinks too much alcohol while pregnant, it can affect the brain development of the fetus, and even cause fetal alcohol syndrome.
The brains of babies with this condition may be smaller and often contain fewer brain cells. This may lead to difficulties with learning and behavior.
It Is A Myth That Humans Only Use 10% Of Our Brain
We actually use all of it. Were even using more than 10 percent when we sleep. Although its true that at any given moment all of the brains regions are not concurrently firing, brain researchers using imaging technology have shown that, like the bodys muscles, most are continually active over a 24-hour period.
Where Did That Myth Come From
Where did the whole you-only-use-10-percent-of-your-brain thing come from, anyway?
Researchers point to different sources of the myth, but one that is often linked to it is psychologist William James’s text The Energies of Men, published in 1907. In the essay, James argued that we are only using a small part of our possible mental and physical resources. Some people also attribute the idea to Albert Einstein, who is just naturally smarter than the rest of us. Psychology Today also credited the myth’s creation to the neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield, who experimented with stimulating parts of the brain to treat epilepsy.
The myth gained so much ground that a 2013 survey sponsored by the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research showed 65 percent of Americans believe that statement. Pop culture also plays a part. Think of any movie that involves psychic powers. Most of these explain the development of psychic abilities by harnessing more parts of the brain. No other film made a bigger deal out of the full 10 percent of the brain thing than 2014’s Lucy, a movie The Atlantic called “mind-bendingly miscalculated.” In that movie, Lucy takes a drug that somehow unlocks the use of more areas of her brain. She begins levitating, reading minds, controlling TVs, and, once she reaches 100 percent, fades into consciousness itself and enters a computer. This was a real movie in actual theaters, promise.
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Drugs Create Holes In Our Brains
Physical trauma is the only way we can actually put a hole in our brain. While drugs also affect the function of the brains neurotransmitters, the effect can be reversed. In the event of chronic drug use, however, the overstimulation and replacement of neurotransmitters like dopamine can result in deterioration of mental functioning over time.
The Cellular Composition Of The Human Brain
The determination of the cellular scaling rules that apply to primate brains enabled us to predict the cellular composition of the human brain. According to these rules, a generic primate brain of 1.5kg should have 93 billion neurons, and 112 billion non-neuronal cells: glial cells, thus, should constitute at most half of all brain cells. This generic primate brain should have a cerebral cortex of about 1.4kg, containing 25 billion neurons, and a cerebellum weighing 120g, with 70 billion neurons .
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They Looked At Mris Just To Be Sure
Unfortunately, just because you truly use more than 10 percent of your brain, does not mean you’re going to begin developing telekinesis.
Scientists have measured how much brainpower people use when doing certain activities. Healthline noted researchers look at brain activity through a magnetic resonance imaging . They ask people inside an MRI to look at photos or do certain exercises, and they study which parts of the brain light up when performing those functions. There’s even an episode of MythBusters where they tested the 10 percent myth. The MythBusters team asked people to accomplish complicated mental tasks word associations, memory drills, calculations and found that people use at least 35 percent of their brains to perform those activities.
What scientists can generally agree on is that we don’t yet fully understand the full brain. Scientific American said researchers continue to study the different parts of the brain to figure out the function of each. Generally, we know about neurons, but what about the glial cells that support neurons? What are their function? Nor do scientists know where consciousness comes from. We know that people use far more than 10 percent of their full brain capacity, but scientists are also still trying to understand more about how the brain works and what its full potential can be. In the meantime sorry. You really can’t make yourself read minds.
The Human Brain As A Special Brain
What makes us human? Is our brain, the only one known to study other brains, special in any way? According to a recent popular account of what makes us unique, we have brains that are bigger than expected for an ape, we have a neocortex that is three times bigger than predicted for our body size, we have some areas of the neocortex and the cerebellum that are larger than expected, we have more white matter and the list goes on . Most specialists seem to agree . Since ours is obviously not the largest brain on Earth, our superior cognitive abilities cannot be accounted for by something as simple as brain size, the most readily measurable parameter regarding the brain. Emphasis is thus placed on an exceptionality that is, curiously, not brain-centered, but rather body-centered: With a smaller body but a larger brain than great apes, the human species deviates from the relationship between body and brain size that applies to other primates, great apes included, boasting a brain that is 57× too large for its body size . Recent efforts to support this uniqueness have focused on finding genetic differences between humans and other primates , as well as cellular particularities such as the presence and distribution of Von Economo neurons .
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Roots Of The 10% Brain Myth
The roots of this myth are very difficult to discern, probably because there are so many different, diffuse stories about its origin.
One apocryphal story is that Einstein once explained his brilliance by saying he used more than 10 percent of his brain, compared to the rest of us mere mortals .
Despite probably being based on a misquote, the repeating of this story cant have hurt the 10 percent brain myths power.
Perhaps some of the earliest roots of the idea that we only use 10 percent of our brain comes from work by physiologists in the 1870s.
They routinely applied electrical currents to the brain to see which muscles moved.
They found that large parts of the human brain could be zapped without any corresponding bodily twitching.
This led them to dub parts of the brain silent.
But they didnt mean silent in the sense of inactive, just that it didnt make any muscles move.
Of course this didnt stop the phrase being misinterpreted.
Where Did The 10% Myth Begin
The 10% statement mayhave been started with a misquote of Albert Einstein or themisinterpretation of the work of Pierre Flourens in the 1800s. It mayhave been William James who wrote in 1908: “We are making use of only asmall part of our possible mental and physical resources” . Perhaps it was the work of Karl Lashley in the 1920s and1930s that started it. Lashley removed large areas of the cerebral cortexin rats and found that these animals could still relearn specific tasks. We now know that destruction of even small areas of the human braincan have devastating effects on behavior.That is one reason why neurosurgeons must carefully map the brain beforeremoving brain tissue during operations for epilepsy or brain tumors: they want to make sure that essential areas of the brain are notdamaged.
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Is It True That You Get New Brain Wrinkles When You Learn Something
Not all brains are wrinkled. In fact, most animals have fairly smooth brains. Some exceptions are primates, dolphins, elephants, and pigs, which also happen to be some of the more intelligent animals.
The human brain is exceptionally wrinkled. Thats probably why people conclude that we gain more wrinkles as we learn new things. But thats not how we acquire brain wrinkles.
Your brain starts developing wrinkles before youre even born. The wrinkling continues as your brain grows, until youre about 18 months old.
Think of the wrinkles as folds. The crevices are called sulci and the raised areas are called gyri. The folds allow room for more gray matter inside your skull. It also decreases wiring length and improves overall cognitive functioning.
Human brains vary quite a bit, but theres still a typical pattern to brain folds. Research shows that not having the major folds in the right places could cause some dysfunction.
- motivate you to do things you probably wanted to do anyway
Learning entirely new things is far more complicated.
Say youve been studying a foreign language. Theres only a small chance that listening to vocabulary words in your sleep can help you remember them a bit better. A 2015 study found that this is true only under the best of circumstances. The researchers noted that you cant learn new things during your sleep.
How Much Does A Human Brain Weigh
The human brain weighs about 3 lbs. and makes up about 2% of a human’s body weight. On average, male brains are about 10% larger than female brains, according to Northwestern Medicine in Illinois. The average male has a brain volume of nearly 78 cubic inches , while the average female brain has a volume of 69 cubic inches . The cerebrum, which is the main part of the brain located in the front area of the skull, makes up 85% of the brain’s weight.
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Why We Use More Than 10 Percent Of Our Brain Power
A large body of research has shown humans tend to be cognitive misers . We cant afford to engage in hard thinking all the time because it isnt efficient. In our daily lives, we need to think at different levels in different situations. Too much thinking when engaging in trivial situations may drain cognitive resources needed for more complex decision making efforts. From an evolutionary perspective, cognitive shortcuts help us satisfy needs without over extending our brain resources.
A primary characteristic of well-learned information is the ease at which it is retrieved. As an example, when first learning statistics it is tiring and often a huge headache. As learning progresses, it becomes easier to perform statistical procedures the brain areas involvedand their patterns of communicationhave changed. Producing the right outcome becomes more efficient. These changes lead to the use of less brain resources being dedicated to the task. A consequence of strong learning occurs across learning situations and is represented by strong learning/memory connections . However, being a cognitive miser under some circumstances may lead to poor decision making . Research involving rational thinking/critical thinking provides evidence that it is often this lack of thinkingor cognitive miserlinessthat leads to irrationality. In the cognitive science literature, this is referred to as a processing problem.
A Brain Freeze Is Really A Warning Signal
Officially called a sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia, a brain freeze happens when you eat or drink something thats too cold. It chills the blood vessels and arteries in the very back of the throat, including the ones that take blood to your brain. These constrict when theyre cold and open back up when theyre warm again, causing the pain in your forehead. This is your brain telling you to stop what you are doing to prevent unwanted changes due to temperature.
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Other Cool Facts About The Brain
- The brain can’t multitask, according to the Dent Neurologic Institute. Instead, it switches between tasks, which increases errors and makes things take longer.
- The human brain triples in size during the first year of life and reaches full maturity at about age 25.
- Humans use all of the brain all of the time, not just 10% of it.
- The brain is 60% fat, according to Northwestern Medicine.
- The human brain can generate 23 watts of electrical power enough to fuel a small lightbulb.
Reading Out Loud Uses Different Brain Circuits Than Reading Silently
Reading aloud promotes brain development. Children first learn to read by speaking words out loud. Once that knowledge is established, then they learn to read to themselves. Its indeed one of the strange facts about the brain because we usually teach our children to read and talk politely. But to promote brain development in your child, you should read and talk aloud in front of them.
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Do We Use 100% Of Our Brain Or Its Just 10%
This has been a debate going around as to what exactly is the truth. Are we accessing only 10% of our brain or are we accessing 100% of our brain all the time? According to Barry Gordon, a neurologist of John Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, the ten percent is only a myth and it is not true.
On the other hand, Sir John Eccles stated that the human brain has infinite potential. In addition, it was also stated that humans have unlimited capacity to learn unlike computers, no human brain has ever said: Hard drive full. The Doctors TV show covered this topic on February 10, 2015 and they are convinced that a human uses all of the brain all the time.
They even showed a brain scan courtesy of Washington University Show, indicating that every time we do something, there is a brain activity taking place in almost all areas. But what I have noticed is that they only focused on what the brain is doing with our body. In other sense, the brain activity that is seen in the scan in The Doctors show is the motor capacity of the brain that is a part of our body.
Sir John Eccless point is the humans mental capacity to access the gigantic network connections that we possess like what Freeman said in the movie. I dont think there is ever a machine that is able to measure something that is not seen and cannot be seen. It is mental. It goes beyond the physical aspect of the brain. It is psychology.
Alcohol Kills Brain Cells
Worried about how many brain cells you may have killed off after a night of partying? Dont be. Although alcohol consumption can hinder the job of neurotransmitters, chemicals in the brain responsible for communication between the brain and other areas of the body, the effect is reversible. However, prolonged exposure to alcohol abuse can result in the neurological condition Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, also known as Wet Brain.
How Many Brain Cells Does A Human Have
The human brain contains about 86 billion nerve cells called “gray matter,” according to a 2012 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The brain also has about the same number of non-neuronal cells, such as the oligodendrocytes that insulate neuronal axons with a myelin sheath. This gives axons a white appearance, and so these axons are called the brain’s “white matter.”
The Origin Of The Myth
The main allure of the 10 percent myth is the idea that you could do so much more if only you could unlock the rest of your brain. Even with ample evidence suggesting the contrary, why do many people still believe that humans only use 10 percent of their brains? Its unclear how the myth spread in the first place, but it has been popularized by self-help books, and may even also be grounded in older, flawed, neuroscience studies.
The myth could be aligned with messages espoused by self-improvement books, which show you ways to do better and live up to your “potential.” For example, the preface to the notorious “How to Win Friends and Influence People” says that the average person develops only 10 percent of his latent mental ability. This statement, which is traced back to psychologist William James, refers to a persons potential to achieve more rather than how much brain matter they used. Others have even said that Einstein explained his brilliance using the 10 percent myth, though these claims remain unfounded.
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Does Alcohol Really Kill Your Brain Cells
Theres no question that alcohol affects the brain in negative ways. It can impair brain function even in the short term. In the longer term, it can lead to serious brain damage. It doesnt actually kill brain cells, though.
Long-term heavy drinking can cause shrinking of the brain and result in deficiencies in white matter. This can lead to:
- slurred speech
- family history of substance abuse
Alcoholics are prone to developing a brain disorder called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. Symptoms include:
- mental confusion
- paralysis of nerves that control eye movement
- muscle coordination problems and difficulty walking
- chronic learning and memory problems
Drinking during pregnancy can affect your babys developing brain, a condition known as fetal alcohol syndrome. Children with fetal alcohol syndrome tend to have smaller brain volume . They can also have fewer brain cells or normally functioning neurons. This can cause long-term behavioral and learning problems.
Alcohol may interfere with the brains ability to grow new brain cells, which is another reason this myth may persist.
Why is it so easy to believe these myths about the brain? Theres a grain of truth running through some of them. Others seep into our own brains through repetition, and we fail to question their validity.
If you previously bought into some of these brain myths, take heart. You werent alone.