Brain Facts: Efficient & Effective

In the last decade or so, neuroscience has discovered so much about the physical properties of the brain, that research results have far surpassed the total brain knowledge of the previous six thousand years. We’ve gone from ancient Egyptian mummification practices that basically tossed out the brain, because they thought it had no purpose, to actually being able to turn memories on and off in (genetically altered) mice!

Did you know –

  • the human brain runs on 200-400 kilocalories a day, which works out to be between 10 and 25 watts of power? (That’s running 24/7/365 – asleep and awake!)
  • even at 10-25 watts, a computer performing the same number of calculations, in the same manner as the brain, uses up more than 40 million times the energy? (Can you imagine your electric bill?)
  • at its efficient best, the human brain uses up approximately 20% of the blood and oxygen in the human body?
  • in its compact, average 1400 grams of weight, the brain is made up of 100 BILLION nerve cells – about the same as the number of trees in the Amazon rain forest?

But the most important piece of proof, refuting old, time-worn beliefs, is that the human brain is not static. What we are born with is not all we get. Says noted researcher, Abigail Baird, Ph.D. at Vassar College, “Your brain is changing every minute of the day, from your time in the womb until the moment you die.”

This is good news, because it provides physical proof of what has been intuitively felt for centuries and cognitively tested and research for the last 50 years – we never “have to” stop growing. Every moment of the day, every experience we encounter is an opportunity to learn and grow, and become more of who we have the potential to be.