11 Amazing Brain Facts from Neuroscientists

A Neuroscientist is one with expertise in neurology. This area of biology deals with the anatomy, physiology, psychology, biochemistry, and molecular biology of neurons and neural circuits. They deal particularly with their connections to behavior and learning.

Here are some interesting brain facts that neuroscientists have discovered:

1. Our brains create stories that suggest we have free will even when we don’t.

Neuroscientists studying human patients have demonstrated that if you activate a section of the motor area to produce a given behavior, the person will conjure up a justification for having the volition to undertake that activity.

The question is whether humans have free will. However, scientists are seeing more and more instances when people’s actions were clearly not driven by their free choice but were rationalized by their brains to make them seem that way for consistency’s sake. 

2. Neuroscientists have been able to read a rat’s imagination

The hippocampus has long been known to depict space and store memories. However, current research indicates that it may also facilitate imagination. When this mental simulation mode is active, you may read out what a rat might be imagined from its cerebral activity. 

3. The majority of your brain’s neurons only have four inputs.

More than half of the neurons in your brain are composed of granule cells, one of the most basic cells in the cerebellum! Granule cells are incredibly tiny, with only four dendrites and one synapse apiece. Granule cells, which make up half of the neurons in your brain, must thus be a very significant substrate for something, as they only get four excitatory bits of information in total. This indicates that they must be performing some simple integration.

Granule cells are small and straightforward, but they are exceedingly difficult to record. Therefore it is unknown what they are truly doing.

 4. Elephants’ enormous brain areas control their trunks.

Elephants are said to have the largest brains and the greatest number of cells. The reason for this is that their cerebellum contains an enormous number of granule cells—even more than humans have. Perhaps a contributing factor is the fact that elephants must be able to manage their highly complex, multi-muscle trunks. 

5. Most of your neurons are with you for life.

These cells stay with you throughout your entire life because the neurons you have at birth are largely the neurons you have when you pass away, according to nad.com. These brain cells develop genetic mutations over the course of your lifespan. However, in an adult, it’s believed that the genomes of essentially every neuron in the brain are distinct.

6. Your brain ensures that you don’t see things upside down.

In the early days of neuroscience, scientists found that the eyeball’s lens does more than just focus images. It also flips them so that they are right-side up in relation to the surrounding environment. How your brain turns the image right side up again has been a significant unanswered question for a while. If the world is upside down to your eyes, why doesn’t it appear that way to you?

People eventually realized that once something enters the brain, absolute coordinates are no longer necessary to flip it back upside down. It doesn’t always follow that something at the bottom of your visual cortex is also at the bottom of the globe. Once placed in cerebral space, the brain only considers relative coordinates.

7. Forgetfulness is necessary for the brain to function effectively.

People frequently consider forgetting to be an illness. However, forgetting is actually a form of adaptation. This is because it is not healthy to recall every detail of your life.

Some people have incredible episodic memories but frequently lose the capacity to draw broad conclusions from such memories. Basically, they only see the trees and not the forest. Therefore, trying to recall every little thing is not a good idea. 

8. A split brain may lead to split consciousness.

The split-brain phenomenon, which is the result of the corpus callosum connecting the two hemispheres being severed, was the subject of an experiment in the 1960s. In this circumstance, the same person has two distinct cognitions.

In this experiment, the patient’s right and left visual fields are alternately given various images. People tended to describe what they observed in the right portion of the visual field when asked what they saw, as this information is processed by the left hemisphere, which is linked to speaking.

The patient will select the object that was displayed in the left portion of their visual field if you ask them to choose an object with their left hand since that information travels to the right hemisphere, which controls the left hand. As a result, the same person appears to have two distinct consciousnesses.

9. Some interneurons have metabolic activity comparable to that of cardiac cells.

Once upon a time, a blood test was used to determine someone’s LDH (lactate dehydrogenase A-B) ratio to determine whether they had had a heart attack. The heart is the exception, where the ratio is flipped to sustain higher metabolism levels. In most muscle and blood, one isoform is found in considerably higher concentrations than the other. This characteristic could be found in the blood during a heart attack and is something you’d connect with the heart muscle.

However, there is another cell type, the cortical fast-spiking interneuron, in which the LDH A-B ratio is also inverted. These cells are extremely metabolically active and highly specialized, so much so that when you look at their metabolic profile, they resemble the heart rather than neurons. They express a unique subunit of the electron transport gene, which was previously thought to be exclusive to the heart.

Although these interneurons have been extensively investigated, their contributions to metabolic efficiency have not been fully appreciated. We know the connection between their dysregulation, auditory hallucinations, and schizophrenia. Given that the body is ready to incur such high metabolic costs in order to support them, they must be of utmost importance.

10. In the brain, abstract thought has a material basis.

The discovery of place cells in the brain opened up an entirely new way of thinking since it demonstrates that cognitive components have a physical, palpable reality. This is the first proof that a very abstract cognitive element of how our brains work has a material basis. Therefore,  it is one of the most important scientific advancements in neuroscience to date. 

11. The brain implicitly controls even voluntary actions.

Researching and treating Parkinson’s and other neurology diseases really brings to light how implicit behavior regulation is the foundation of what we perceive as regular voluntary behavior. We can easily see how a mind could be perfectly healthy but unable to carry out activities. Perhaps we are at ease thinking about that in terms of the peripheral nervous system.

However, for conditions like Huntington’s disease, tic disorders, or Parkinson’s disease, the notion is that there is still a significant amount of implicit control over our behavior in central brain structures. In addition, it seems that this control is closely linked to what we consider explicit, voluntary, and deliberate control over our behavior.

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.