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25 Brain Facts that Will Blow Your Mind

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By Olivia Harlow

Being a jelly blob of gray fats and proteins (weighing about three pounds) the human brain doesn’t look like much. Nevertheless, it is one of the most complex and mysterious organs known, giving life to art, sport, personality, and morals. There are tons of brain facts that most people don't know. With over 86 billion neurons, 2.5 billion gigabytes of storage, and over 50,000 thoughts per day, the human brain is truly astounding. As that weird pile of goo in our heads processes life’s bombarding complexities, we should all be a bit more in awe of our individualized human awesomeness. Here are some brain facts that will make you think twice.

1. According to Paul Reber, Professor of Psychology at Northwestern University, the human brain can store an estimated 2,500,000 gigabytes. That’s equivalent to 300 years worth of TV shows. [Scientific American]

2. Researchers estimate that the average attention span has decreased by 12 minutes over the last 10 years. Today, the human attention span is shorter than a goldfish. [Time]

3. The average weight of the human brain is three pounds. [National Geographic]

4. The hippocampus transforms short-term memories into long-term memories. [Live Science]

5. Vitamin B1 is essential to producing the brain chemical acetylcholine, which is needed for concentrating and storing memories. An Australian study revealed that those who consumed B1 supplements and folic acid for two years improved long and short-term memory. [Huffington Post]

6. Being able to quickly access information—i.e. via our borderline invincible Internet—actually makes it harder to remember. The harder we work to access data, the more likely we are to remember. [Huffington Post]

7. Memories start forming in the womb, as early as four months into pregnancy. [ABC]

8. The brain uses 20 percent of the body’s total oxygen and energy. [Scientific American]

9. The brain is 73 percent water. It only takes 2 percent dehydration to affect your attention and memory. Now those are brain facts! [Daily Mail]

10. An hour and a half of sweating can temporarily shrink the brain as much as one year of aging. [Daily Mail]

11. Five minutes without oxygen can cause brain damage. [Medical Daily]

12. The brain generates between 12 and 25 watts of electricity—that’s enough to power a low wattage light bulb! [National Geographic]

13. Neurons travel 150 mph in the brain. [National Geographic]

14. Those who take a quiz after its revision are 65 percent more likely to remember the facts. [BBC]

15. Learning new things increases visible gray matter in the brain. [BBC]

16. Memory is prioritized by emotion. But this also means that a lot of our “memories” are unintended flawed fiction. [New Yorker]

17. Similarly to the above fact, emotions drastically alter our brains. The chemical reactions stirred by feelings can be physically seen in studies of gray matter. [Huffington Post]

18. The average brain has between 50,000 and 70,000 thoughts a day. Upsettingly, the majority (an estimated 60-70 percent) of the thoughts are negative. [Huffington Post]

19. More than 100,000 chemical reactions take place in the brain every second. [National Geographic]

20. When intoxicated, the brain is incapable of forming memories. So no, you didn’t “forget” what happened last night. The memory simply was never formed. [Daily Mail]

21. Practicing recollection can help aid PTSD. [Smithsonian]

22. The texture and consistency of the human brain is comparable to tofu. [National Geographic]

23. The brain starts slowing at around 24-years-old. [Time]

24. 95 percent of all decisions take place in the subconscious mind! [Science Daily]

25. Although pain is processed in the brain, the organ itself cannot feel pain. This is why brain surgeries can occur while a patient is awake, without discomfort. [Time] The list goes on and on, truly. And as more research is conducted, digging deeper into the human brain’s capabilities, we can only become increasingly amazed at ourselves and learn more brain facts as we go. Knowing everything about our own minds might be an impossible feat, but only because it is so boundless, so limitless. Next time you doubt yourself, just think of that incredible blob of magic inside your skull.

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