The brain is a fascinating organ. It’s the reason we feel pain, the reason we feel love, and the reason we remember the most significant events in our life. It’s also a mysterious organ. Unless you’re in a neuroscience class, you may not learn much about how the brain is structured and how it works. What color is it? What connects the two hemispheres of the brain? How much does it weigh?
This post will answer all of your questions and more!
What Connects the Two Hemispheres of the Brain?
The corpus callosum connects two hemispheres of the brain. Think of how a hearing aid is shaped to fit around the ear - that’s what the corpus callosum looks like. It sits between the left and right sides of the brain and allows them to communicate.
The corpus callosum is a C-shaped neural fiber band containing 200 million axons. Axons are like roads by which electrical impulses travel to the appropriate parts of the brain. Without the axons of the corpus callosum, you may not be able to articulate what you see on a particular side of the room or navigate both sides of your body to walk or climb. Building connections between both sides of the brain can help you build various physical and mental skills!
Can You Survive Without A Corpus Callosum?
You can, but there will be complications if the two hemispheres are no longer connected. Patients with epilepsy have had their corpus callosum cut as a last-resort treatment. The procedure reduced seizures but had interesting side effects in terms of language and movement.
These “split-brain” patients have shown neuroscientists where certain skills are located in the brain.
Which Side of the Brain Controls Creativity?
You might have heard that people who are more creative are more “right-brained” while people who are more logical are more “left-brained.” That isn’t exactly true. Studies on the different cerebral hemispheres and on split-brain patients show that our skills and abilities are pretty spread out amongst both sides.
What we do know is that language is processed on the left side of the brain, and that each hemisphere may send messages back and forth across different sides of the body. (You can read more about Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area if you’re curious about these areas of the brain.) A person with a severed corpus callosum may not be able to speak on things that they process in the right side of the brain.
What Is the Brain Made Of?
The brain consists of white matter and grey matter, two types of tissue that work together to communicate and process information throughout the brain. Grey and white matter also contain structures like nerve cells, small blood vessels, water, and proteins.
When you break down all the types of tissue in the brain, it sounds more like a meal than an organ! There are proteins, water, and fat! The brain is actually 60% fat. These fatty tissues form a myelin sheath that protects axons in the brain and forms white matter.
What Color is the Brain?
In cartoons, the brain looks pink. In photographs, it looks grey and tan. So which it is? The answer depends on whether the brain is working and blood is pumping through it. Inside your head is an active brain that is pinkish and grey (thanks to its aptly-named grey matter.)
When the blood stops flowing, it retains its grey and tan color.
How Much Does the Brain Weigh?
The average adult brain weighs three pounds, give or take a few ounces. It’s not much in comparison to the rest of the body, but the brain uses up a lot of our energy! Around a quarter of our energy is dedicated to keeping our brains active.
Do We Only Use 10% of Our Brain?
This is a myth. Humans typically use all of our brains, all of the time. Even when we are sleeping, different parts of the brain are ensuring that we are breathing, processing memories, and moving through the different stages of sleep.
If you want to use more of your brain, you can do activities and have experiences that build new connections within the brain. Neuroplasticity is a newer concept in the world of neuroscience, but it suggests that we can continue to build connections within our brain to improve our skills, sharpen our focus, and become better, smarter versions of ourselves.
Does One Hemisphere of the Brain Weigh Larger Than The Other?
Even though the brain has a left and a right hemisphere, these areas aren’t completely symmetrical. Neuroscientists are studying brain asymmetry and how it relates to language, memory, and other functions of the brain. Since the brain is only three pounds, the difference in weight may only amount to an ounce or smaller.
Do Our Brains Ever Sleep?
Even when our bodies are sleeping, our brains are active. In fact, our brains are very active when we’re in deep sleep. REM sleep is a stage of sleep when the body is shut down, but the brain is working hard. This is the stage of sleep when we dream!
In other stages of sleep, the brain emits slower brainwaves. The body is still functioning, but the brain is not engaged in conscious thought or processing information from earlier in the day. We need our brains to stay active. Otherwise, we will die!
What Are Brainwaves?
Brainwaves are patterns of electrical activity that take place throughout the brain. They follow neurons as they travel through the brain, delivering messages about what we see, what we feel, and what memories are relevant to our current experiences. Different levels of brainwaves determine our brain activity.
There are five main types of brainwaves:
- Alpha waves
- Beta waves
- Theta waves
- Gamma waves
- Delta waves
Alpha waves run through our brains when we are resting.
Beta waves signify that we are focused on solving a problem.
Gamma waves are fast waves, signaling that we are tapping into high levels of cognition and consciousness.
Theta waves move through our brains when we are dreaming or sleeping. We can also achieve this type of brain activity after a few minutes of meditation.
Delta waves are the slowest type of brainwave. Meditation can also produce delta waves, as well as sleep stages without dreams. This is another type of brainwave that indicates we are restoring brain activity and brain health.
How Can You Strengthen the Connection Between Both Hemispheres of the Brain?
Our brains have the potential to grow and form new connections all the time. If you want to “strengthen your brain,” you have to activate it with new experiences. The following activities can help you activate both hemispheres of your brain at once:
- Learn how to juggle
- Go rock climbing
- Take the Stroop test
- Try doing activities with a different hand or leg
- Look into bilateral stimulation and EMDR therapy
- Listen to binaural beats while meditating
- Create an exercise routine that consists of bilateral movements
- Cover up your right eye and read aloud
Some of these activities can seem silly, but they all help to stimulate your brain and make it stronger. The brain is an organ, but it works like a muscle. Keep using it to strengthen it!