Brain Matter

The Brain weighs about 3 pounds and has a 2% total body weight. If compared to other animals, this is, in fact, a very high brain to body ratio. We have the biggest brain of any animal relative to the size of our bodies. Whales and such have bigger brains, but also, bigger bodies. At, 2% we have the largest brain to body ratio and if we look at the resources in consumes, its 25 percent oxygen, which means one of every four breaths you take goes to your brain. Also, 70% of the body is glucose which means all of this supply and blood sugars will go to the brain. The brain therefore is a very sugar hungry organ in the body. Also , 5% nutrients you eat go towards keeping the brain healthy. It is such a powerful organ; It is so critical for our every day survival. There are about 1000 billion neurons. Also, the number of neurons are the numbers of connections between these neurons. Adding up to 1 quadrillion. They say we only use 10-20 percent of our brain, however that is not true. It is actually every bit of tissue in the brain, is used at some point. Although, we are talking on an every day basis of brain use. If you were to cut a brain into two parts you would end up seeing a distinction of what people call white matter and gray matter around the outside. The white matter is a much denser tissue. One it provides structure, somewhat like our dense bones in our body provide our body to structure itself. Gray matter somewhat hangs on the white matter, and the white matter will therefore give it , its structure. It also delivers nutrients and allows communications to go back and forth. The real computational power really seems to be happening in the gray areas. This is called cortical tissue, the stuff that is on the outside of the brain. They are wrinkled, the pinky like substance would be the gray matter. The curves on a brain or the upper part of the curves would be called the gyrus or the gyri. Indentations we call fissures. Fissures tend to lie between the same places and they allow us to kind of segment the brain in a certain way. Why do we have the gyrian fissures? The brain had evolved over evolution, and as it was evolving brain power became evolutionarily significant. Offspring made the need for more and more brain tissue. There is only so much space in a skull however. How do you take something big and put it into a smaller area? Well, by wrinkling it. By wrinkling it you can actually get smaller areas to form the gyris and fissures forming. The notion is that if you actually took the brain and flattened it out, you would have a whole lot of gray matter, and the gray matter is where the action begins.

Zooming in on this, we would see something that we call neurons. Neurons have various parts to them. First of all, theres the body, just that central what we call cell body, theres a nucleus in the middle and this is where the neurons make decisions over and over again. Neurons work by dendrites, at the end, this is where neurons can communicate with another neuron. Then theres a space between the sending neurons and receiving neurons that we call the synaptic cleft. This is literally, how these neurons communicate. So therefore, its literally comparing how much excitatory signals are coming in, how many inhibitory signals are going through as well. Mathematically and Scientifically its asking the neurons is there something to be excited about? How many excitatory signals are coming in? How many inhibitory signals are coming in? What it means is the electrochemical process is initiated and the chemicals and ready to flow back and forth. These chemicals have different charges, positive or negative. When they flow back and forth, they trigger this chain reaction. This is what we call an axon. The axon leads from the cell body, and at the very end has these axon terminals, or terminal buttons. Neurons become released into the synaptic cleft, Into the space between it, and the receiving neuron. Those chemicals are received the receptors. They are channeled and shaped to receive certain neurotransmitters. This is how one neuron gets to another neuron; in an excitatory or inhibitory state.

It is important to understand the concept of brain processing, this is due to the fact that when we look at pain, receipting, reception, the brain seems to respond to something called distributive processing. Brain areas that are broken up , emotional feeling, thoughts and any thoughts. So imagine, you are feeling muscle pain, there will be an emotional feeling, however; when combined with the cognitive you feel good about working out. Therefore it could be a positive aspect that you worked out and that would be the cognitive aspect. Much more frontal areas of the brain.

The brain has to deal often with nosy inputs. The brain is taking out the blue, white or red signals and we can see these pixels. Or imagine, that it was neurons reacting to something. The pattern in the neurons could show what it is we are looking at specifically. Graceful degradation is when parts of brain tissue actually die, but you can still interact perfectly well. And, this allows the brain to be tolerant of noise. Maybe traffic sounds, voices, the AC in your home. Your brain has to be able to deal with it. By using these distributed representations it is able to do that.

Best,

Laura Zukerman

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