News & Media

Melt Your Brain: Brain

We’re all just brains in a jar floating in a room somewhere and none of this is real! Probably. Maybe…

Even though we may consider ourselves pretty brainy, human brains have actually been shrinking since the Stone Age! In fact, in the last 20,000 years (a mere blink of an eye in terms of evolution) we’ve lost about a tennis ball sized chunk of our brains! So, however smart we think we are, when it comes down to it we’re all just tiny 1.3 kg brains piloting these big old bodies around.

Brains are really complicated

In the average adult brain; there are roughly 100 billion nerve cells, or neurons, that’s as many stars as there are in our galaxy!

For the brain to function, these neurons need to communicate with other neurons at junctions called synapses, and there are trillions of these connections in every brain.

We have so much going on in our heads that if you laid out the nerve fibres of your brain end to end they would stretch around the Earth about four times!

The brain is capable of incredible computing power. In fact, simulating just one single second of brain activity took the 4th fastest computer in the world (the K computer in Japan) 40 minutes! That computer was 2,400 times slower than our brains!

 

Brains are powerful, but there’s a lot we don’t yet understand about them

We don’t know for sure, that we’re here at all.

The brain is the source of all our consciousness, everything we see, feel and experience, stimulated by the world around us.

If you could access a brain’s neurons, there’s nothing to say you couldn’t stimulate it with a simulation. This means that for all you know your brain could be in a jar being fed false impulses…

But the real question then is who put us in the jar? Aliens? Giant robots? Or maybe it was God?

 

The brain is sensitive and delicate, but also surprisingly robust

In 1848, an American construction foreman called Phineas Gage, was working on a railroad, when an iron rod shot up through his brain, behind his eye, and out of the top of his skull! Sounds bad, but a few minutes later he was walking and talking and even took himself to the doctors!

His intelligence and memory were unaffected, but his left frontal lobe was damaged and his personality completely changed! Before the accident, Gage was hard-working and responsible whereas the new Gage was “fitful, irreverent, and indulged at times in the greatest profanity.”

Gage wasn’t alone, English barber Rory Curtis was in a car crash that landed him in a coma. When he awoke, he found himself speaking fluent French and convinced he was Hollywood actor Matthew McConaughey!

Watch the video to find out more!