Hey brainiacs! Think you’re so smart? Perhaps you’re a regular Einstein, but even those with the highest IQs don’t know everything. There’s always more to learn and where better to continue than with the brain? Our brains are exceptional structures, and their functioning regulates and rules just about everything we do. From memory to movement and so much more, it’s almost a miracle what our brains have the capacity to control.
While delving into the nitty-gritty may be enthralling for the academic, we “regular folks” want the fun stuff that makes the brain so curious. This isn’t brain surgery, after all, so let’s skip the technical and get right to the thought-provoking. For those in med school, consider this an ‘inside-the-cranium’ crash course.
Smart or not-so-smart, the weight of one’s brain doesn’t depend on intelligence. We’re all pretty much in the same boat when it comes to the weight of our brains—3 pounds on average as adults. When we’re born, the brain bulks up to three times the size ‘till we turn one. It keeps growing throughout childhood and into the teen years when at 18, we’re all good.
If you think our brains are big—The sperm whale’s brain is 20 pounds. Are they smarter than we are? If you approach one to ask, you have your answer.
The best part of an ice cream cone? The creamy, dreamy goodness. But don’t eat too fast, because we all know what’ll happen—brain freeze! The pain is kinda worth the pleasure, but what gives? Are our brains literally freezing? Not entirely. A brain freeze is really ‘sphenopalatine ganglion neuralgia.’ It happens when you eat or drink something that’s 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 they’re cold and open back up with they’re warm again, causing the pain in your forehead.”
Counteract the chill—Brain freeze is usually gone before you long for your next lick, but if the pain is powerful, here’s what you can do. John Hopkins Medicine suggests pressing your tongue against the roof of your mouth or drinking warm water. They also recommend “removing the cold food or drink from your mouth,” but that one seems a tad messy, especially if it’s already melting.
Refill your bottle, because your brain is composed of nearly 75% water. Hydration is a key component to staying sharp and swift. Once even the slightest bit of dehydration sets in, your cognition takes a dip. As Cognitive Vitality (a program of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation) points out, “Brains of dehydrated adults show signs of increased neuronal activation when performing cognitively engaging tasks, indicating that their brains are working harder than normal to complete the task.” In healthy young adults, this additional effort typically turns into fatigue and changes in mood. However, in populations with less cognitive reserve, such as the elderly, this can lead to a decline in cognitive performance.
Despite all that water, our brains are fat—60% of the rest of the brain is fat. So keep your diet well-balanced. Now, don’t go running to Krispy Kreme in the name of science. Select healthy fat sources such as avocados, eggs, salmon, and olive oil. Your brain will thank you, and so will your waistline.
The image of a lightbulb over someone’s head when they’ve come up with a bright idea isn’t so far-fetched. Our brains actually generate electricity—12-25 watts—similar to what’s needed to flick on an LED light. While we may not be able to illuminate the room with our minds alone, at least our brains know better and we walk over to the light switch. Better yet, ask Alexa.
Becoming duller—New ideas are never-ending, but we’re not getting any smarter, at least in terms of IQ. Since the mid-1800s, the average IQ has been dipping by about 1.6 points each decade. Is tech to blame? Google it.
We have about 70,000 thoughts running through our minds daily and 70% of them are negative. It seems like a downer, but perhaps it’s all about self-preservation and protection. If we all were to run around without any concern or caution, the species would probably peter out. While it’s always admirable to think positively, perhaps too much of a good thing just isn’t in our DNA.
Raised by a “Negative Nellie?”—Nurture may be the reason you’re so darn down. Our emotional capacity is there at birth—the good, bad, and in-between. Our upbringing may sway our development of these feelings. Hopefully, grumpy grandpa lightens up for the sake of the little one.
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