the inwils interval

1.20 - Knowing your Brain

May 10, 2022 inwils Season 1 Episode 20
the inwils interval
1.20 - Knowing your Brain
Show Notes Transcript

Hello everyone and welcome to the inwils interval

A short, monthly podcast that is perfect for you to listen to while taking a quick break with or without a beverage and biscuits.

In this month's interval, I want to talk about your brain.

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Hello everyone and welcome to the inwils interval

A short, monthly podcast that is perfect for you to listen to while taking a quick break with or without a beverage and biscuits.

In this month's interval, I want to talk about  your brain

Now, before listening to the whole of this podcast episode I would like you to stop me and write down three facts you know about the brain. Go beyond what it does - i.e. control your body, maybe focus on some more unusual facts and see whether you know more than me. Okay, on with the episode.

When I was at university I completed a degree in two subjects. I didn't ever plan to do two subjects at the same time, I was hoping to do biology at Nottingham, but I failed my A levels and had to go through a process called 'clearing'. This lead me to a university in London where I completed a degree in environmental studies and social biology. I had no clue what any of those subjects were but I did complete them both and had a really good time at university. 

Although I only minored in the biology aspect of the degree, in my last year I completed a module called neurophysiology. This mainly looked at the brain and our nervous system and, from day one, I was hooked.

I always think it strange writing or talking about the brain. Essentially it is our own brain that is deciding to we are going to write and/or say and so it always seems to me that the brain is writing about itself and, if there was any information that it didn't want to share with us, then it wouldn't. Metacognition - the study of thinking - also seems strange - you are studying how you think with the main tool for your thinking, your brain. So are you really just studying yourself?

Before we go any further, I just want to say that this episode is not going to be about whether the brain is 'you' or you are your brain, that would definitely be all too confusing. But the brain is an impressive organ of our body and I thought it would be fun to have a chat about it, like a brain on brain session.

Although the brain is important, it is not the biggest organ in your body. That accolade is reserved for your skin. But its size is something that the brain hides very well. In order to increase its surface area, the brain is folded a lot of times. If we actually straightened all those wrinkles and curves out then your head would need to be roughly the size of a surfboard to hold your brain. 

This might appear impressive but the wonders of the brain do not stop there. As it computes about 70,000 thoughts per day, it is supplied with oxygen from a network of 100,000 miles of blood vessels that would stretch around the world four times! It is roughly 75% water and actually floats around in a clear liquid within your skull as if it is just chilling out on a water bed. It is this liquid that cushions the brain as you move your head. 

Now although these facts are all very interesting there are some facts that are popular within our society that are incorrect and we definitely need to rectify these immediately. This would be the perfect opportunity for you to go back to those 3 facts you wrote down earlier. Let's see if you have been misled by your science teachers or the internet!

Misconception number 1 - you only use 10% of your brain. Wrong! no one is sure where this originated from, but it is definitely not true at all. If fact if we look at the activity within your brain the majority of it is working all the time. Indeed, some of it works even when you are not thinking about it. This is why sometimes you suddenly come up with the solution to something when you are not even thinking about it.

Misconception number 2 - you are either left-sided or right-sided brain, being analytical and creative respectively. Wrong - again, no one is sure where this originates from but it is definitely not true. The majority of the brain function happens across both parts of the brain, of course, these parts are called hemispheres which is not a misconception.

And finally, misconception 3 - telepathy - the power to transfer thoughts from one person to another via the power of the mind is impossible. Well, that's actually wrong as well. Although we can't do it like professor x in the x-men movies, we can actually do this. Initially, and I know you are all going to shut at me when I say this, but we actually do this every day. We think of something and communicate it via sounds, words, gestures etc and a second person decodes this and knows what we are saying. Yep, we have language!

But even if you think that is not truly telepathy, we can transmit the electrical impulses of the brain. This part is the easy part. The hardest part is actually trying to decode it at the other end. It is as if we know that our brain uses electrical impulses to communicate but we have no understanding of the actual language the brain uses.

But before we leave the brain to its own thinking. I have to remind you of Elon Musk's Neuralink project. This has been going on for some years, not with several very positive advances. The project aims to link your brain to a computer! This could lead to us experiencing the matrix within the matrix. The only remaining question would be would you agree to allow your brain to be attached to a computer - I'll leave you and your brain to ponder that further.

I hope you have enjoyed this inwils interval. Don’t forget to subscribe and spread the news so that more people can come back next month and listen in. And, if you want to provide some positive feedback then do take advantage of the recording feature on the webpage. I'll play any recorded feedback at the end of the following episode.

Until next time, have fun, stay positive and always be aware of what your brain is thinking ...