Brain-U & Ur Buddy
Category : Brain
I am you and you are me! Hence I desire to serve you to the best of my ability and to the fullest of my capacity. I am your brain. Compared to me, other wonders of the universe are insignificant.But, I am not just part of you;I am your personality, your reactions, your mental capacity.
Compared to me, other wonders of the universe are insignifi cant. I am a one and a half-kilo mushroom of grey and white tissue of gelatinous consistency. No computer exists that can duplicate all my functions. My components are staggering in number: some 30 billion neurons and fi ve to ten ti mes that number of glial cells and all this fitted into the crown of a size 7 hat! I am your Brain.
But, I am not just part of you; I am your personality, your reactions, your mental capacity. You think that you hear with your ears, taste with your tongue and feel with your fingers. All these things happen inside of me – ears, tongue and fingers merely gather information. I tell you when you are sick, when you are hungry; I govern your sex urge, your mood and for that matter everything in you.
Even when you are asleep, I continue to handle traffic that would swamp all the world’s telephone exchanges. The amount of information flooding on you from outside is staggering. How can I cope with it all? I simply select what is important, and ignore the rest. If you switch on a TV and attempt to read at the same ti me, you will concentrate either on TV or the book, but not on both. If you become involved in a particularly good novel, you should not be surprised if you do not remember hearing your favorite program.
Of course, if something potentially dangerous happens, I instantly shift gears. The moment you slip on the ice, I immediately direct you to regain your balance, and then signal your arms to break the fall. Finally, if you hit the ground, I let you know if you are hurt. The event is stored in my memory to warn you to walk carefully on ice in future.
In addition, to taking care of such emergencies, I have thousands of housekeeping chores to perform. For example – overseeing breathing, pumping of the heart, functioning of lever etc….. Sensors inform me that carbon dioxide is rising in your blood and that you need more oxygen. I step up the breathing rate – timing the contraction and relaxation of chest muscles.
In thousands of such ways, I support you and in return, I hardly demand. I just represent only two percent of your body weight but I require 20 percent of the oxygen you inhale and a fifth of the blood your heart pumps. I am utterly dependent on a constant supply. Let there be a temporary shortage and you will faint. Let the supply be cut off for a few minutes and I suffer grave damage– paralysis or even death may result. I also demand a steady supply of nourishment-glucose. Even in situations of acute starvation, I get first preference on any available resource because without me you would die.
In many respects, I am like a vast, unexplored continent, with little more known than the rough outlines of the shore. But, the researchers who are attempting to map me have come up with some fascinating information. For example, although all pain is felt in me, I myself have no pain sensation even when I am cut. Thus, brain surgery is performed with the patient wide-awake, allowing the brain explorers to stimulate specific areas of me electrically and observe the response. If you ever undergo such surgery, you will be amazed at what can happen. A tickle of electricity in one place and you might see a long-forgotten teacher who taught you in class-II. Stimulated in other places, you might hear a train whistle or a recitation of nursery rhyme you could not have recalled a few hours earlier. I am like an old attic containing mementos of a lifetime. You might not be aware of what it is in the attic, but it is there.
The brain mapping researchers have at least a rough outline of my primary functioning areas: vision in the rear, hearing on the sides. Perhaps the most interesting discovery is the “pleasure center.” Teach a monkey to press a switch that gives a minute electrical prod to the “pleasure center” and the animal will press the switch almost continuously– preferring the stimulation even to food. Given time, it could die of starvation presumably happily. If you ever suffer a severe depression, doctors might implant such an electrode in your brain. Little pits.
of electricity could transform a depressed you into a delighted you. I normally feel happy when I am in a higher excited state. I fail to understand, that whenever I am under depression the drugs administered to me are the suppressants.
I reside, of course, in a well-protected fortress. The skull is about half a centimeter thick at the top, and even thicker at the base. I am bathed in a watery fluid that cushions me from shocks. A ‘blood-brain barrier’ serves as a gatekeeper letting some things in, denying entrance to others. Thus, it welcomes the glucose I need, but blocks out bacteria and toxic substances. Most painkillers, anesthetics, alcohol and hallucinogenic drugs, that wildly distort my normal activities pass in with ease.
A word about my architecture. Lift a piece of grass from a lawn and note the baffling intertwining of roots. I am something like that–multiplied by millions. Each of my 30 billion nerve cells, or neurons, connects with others–some as many as 64000 times!
A neuron looks something like a spider attached to a filament. The spider is the cell body, the filament the axon, the legs the dendrites. The legs pick up a signal from adjacent neurons, pass it to the body; the signal is in turn passed along by the filament at speeds up to 340 km/h. After each signal passes, it takes the filament about 1/2000 of a second to recharge itself chemically. At no point does one of my neurons touch another; signals are passed spark-gap fashion. At each “firing” one nerve chemically communicates with another.
For all my versatility, I unfortunately never learned the wonders of reproduction. Skin, liver tissue, blood cells can be replaced after damage or loss. But if I lose one of my cells it is lost forever–and by age 35, you loose over 1000 of my nerve cells a day! With age, I also lose weight but for my great reserves, these things might be disastrous. But I compensate. Let a thousand cells die and a thousand others may never notice the loss. But, if enough cells are destroyed, you may. Your sense of smell might diminish. Your taste could become less acute and hearing fade. You might notice your attention span diminishing, and you might have more difficulty remembering names, dates, and telephone numbers. But I will take care of the really important jobs to the end.
You know that you have two kidneys, two lungs, two adrenals. You do not think of me as a “paired” organ, but in a sense I am, in that I have distinct right and left hemispheres. My left half controls much of the activity on the right side of your body, my other hemisphere the left. With right-handed people, the left hemisphere is dominant. With Lefties, the reverse is true. Recent studies suggest that my left hemisphere controls my ability to walk, write and do mathematics. My right hemisphere is essentially mute but can do other things, such as make special judgments.