Did you know, like the delete button on our computers or phones, there is a delete button in our brain too? I am not joking, it is true. According to scientific research you can erase your memories too. Surprising isn’t it? “The brain is a complex organ that controls thought, memory, emotion, touch, motor skills, vision, breathing, temperature, hunger and every process that regulates our body”. Together, the brain and spinal cord that extends from it make up the central nervous system, or CNS.
The brain weighs around 3 pounds in an average adult, and the brain is about 60% fat. The remaining 40% is a combination of water, protein, carbohydrates and salts. The brain is a not a muscle and contains blood vessels and nerves, including neurons and glial cells. Gray and white matter are two different regions of the central nervous system. In the brain, gray matter refers to the darker, outer portion, while white matter describes the lighter, inner section underneath. Gray matter comprises neuron somas which is the round central cell bodies. The white matter is mostly made of axons or the long stems that connects neurons wrapped in myelin.
Brain makes space and builds new connections. According to neuroscience, there is a neuro circuit in the brain, which means the more you use, the stronger it becomes. Here the saying that through practice, humans become perfect. The proof of the statement being true is when we start learning new things like a language or music etc., we need to practice repeatedly. Ability to learn increases by strengthening and building the neural connections. Hence, we are able to forget old things or forget the old incident over the time and it is called as ‘synaptic pruning’.
Scientists state our brain is like a garden too. “The way we sow flowers and fruits in the garden, in the same way, you can increase synaptic connections between the neurons in the brain”. The gardener looks after the garden, similarly, ‘glial cells’ act as the gardeners of the brain. ‘ The cells which prune the gardeners of the brain are called ‘microglial cells’ and they prune our synaptic connections.
Here are some unknown and interesting facts about our brain:
- Our brain uses 20% of its total energy and oxygen intake and 25% percent of the glucose circulating in our bloodstream.
- Scientists, believe that the brain is more active at night than in the day!
- During pregnancy, neurons multiply more quickly that is more than 200,000 neurons per minute.
- All it needs is only 5 minutes without oxygen to have a brain damage!
- Did you realize, the brain generates 12-25-watt electricity, that is enough to power a low wattage LED light?
- From childhood we’ve been taught people are left-brained or right-brained, but it is a myth. We are ‘whole-brained’ instead.
- Our brain cannot do multi-tasking! Strange isn’t it?
The synaptic connections that are used less often are marked or bound with a protein called C1q. When microglial cells detect that mark or sign, then they are bound to the protein and then they destroy or prune the synapse. This is how the process of deleting is done, and physical space is generated in the brain and that is how you can learn and remember new things.
All of us know about the importance of a good sleep at night. Sometimes when we read more or work more we tend to feel tired as our brain is exhausted, and it seems like now you can't learn new things. The reason is your sleep was not complete. “When you learn a lot of new things, your brain makes connections, but they are inefficient or ad hoc”. Hence the brain needs pruning and has to build more streamlines and efficient pathways, which is only possible when we take proper sleep. Scientists opine “when you sleep, your brain cleans itself, and cells of the brain shrink up to 60% and create space for glial gardeners to take away the waste. That's why we must take 10 or 20 minutes of nap so that microglial gardeners get an opportunity, to finish the unused connection or prune the synapses and establish a place to make new ones.
When you sleep, the brain deletes the connection that you have not been used for a long time and that is why the brain also requires refinement and you need to be careful what you are thinking about. To take advantage of your brain's ‘natural gardening system’, just think about the things that are most important to you as the brain strengthens the connections that you use most often in your life-system and will suppress those thoughts which you think less or things you pay less attention to.
The proven truth is for a well-functioning brain, always think good, be positive so that your brain also works in the same direction!