I just finished reading The Brain: The Story of You by David Eagleman, and I wanted to share my thoughts.
Imagine you’re making a simple choice, standing in the frozen yogurt store, trying to decide between two flavors you like equally. Say these are mint and lemon. From the outside, it doesn’t look like you’re doing much: you’re simply stuck there, looking back and forth between the two options. But inside your brain, a simple choice like this unleashes a hurricane of activity.
By itself, a single neuron has no meaningful influence. But each neuron is connected to thousands of others, and they in turn connect to thousands of others, and so on in a massive, loopy, intertwining network. They’re all releasing chemicals that excite or depress each other.
Neuroscientist/Adjunct Stanford University Professor David Eagleman breaks down the power and inner workings of the human brain. Everything from childhood development to adulthood, senses, addiction, and body functionality are unpacked in a way that gives clarity to any student of the mind. Professor Eagleman’s guide also addresses some of the biggest questions of our existence: who are we, and where are we going as a species?
For the longest, I’ve heard scientists and even motivational speakers talk about the power of the human brain: how our thoughts control our actions, biological signaling, and the rewiring of our personalities. So it only made sense to start researching the science behind it, which led me to Professor David Eagleman.
The Brain: The Story of You was a smooth and insightful read that provides a detailed account of what many would call a human computer. Every bodily function, hormone, and perception of reality is attached to the brain. This gave me a better understanding of why it needs to be taken care of daily.
Some of the points that I took from the book are as follows:
- The human brain has about 86 billion neurons that make roughly 10,000 connections.
- An adult brain weighs 3 pounds.
- If you damage a small part of it, you will change radically.
- The human brain is born unfinished; it’s shaped by the details of life experiences.
- Children and adults have the same number of brain cells, but the difference is in the connections.
- Brain aging is inevitable, so keeping the brain active is imperative.
- Crossword puzzles, reading, learning new skills, and social activities will help.
- Synapses are brain cell connections that help with cell communication.
- Your brain is just as active at night as it is during the day.
- The brain has access to the outside world by way of our sensory organs: eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and skin.
- A third of the human brain is dedicated to vision.
- The brain processes sound more quickly than sight.
- 20% of the calories we consume are used to power the brain.
- In life-threatening situations, the area of the brain called the amygdala kicks into high gear, forcing other parts of the brain to attend to the situation. This is why it seems like everything slows down around us.
- Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps prioritize our decisions based on our optimized guesses of the future. It’s also apart of our brain’s reward system.
- Addiction is common amongst humans. One way to handle it is to top the balance of impulse control in the brain. For example, ramp up the punishment for a relapse.
- When it comes to addiction, the craving and suppression networks of the brain are always battling it out for supremacy.
- Normal brain function depends on the social web around us; we need people.
- The human brain’s ability to rewire itself, adjusting to inputs, outputs, and any task at hand, is known as plasticity.
This will be the first of many books that I read on the brain, so stay tuned for more.
Until Next Time…