The Brain: Fun Facts. Continuing the celebration of Brain Awareness Week.

The Brain: Fun Facts. Continuing the celebration of Brain Awareness Week.

• There are about 86 billion neurons in the human brain, similar to the stars in our galaxy. A piece of brain tissue the size of a grain of sand contains 100,000 neurons and 1 billion synapses. Now, that’s a network!

• Your brain weighs 3 pounds but your skin weighs twice as much. Although only ~ 2 % of your body weight, your brain consumes 20% of your oxygen supply. An elephant’s brain is physically larger than a human brain, it is only 0.15% of its total body weight, whereas the ant has the largest brain in proportion to body size.

• The speed at which information travels down a nerve (action potential) can vary from 100 meters per second (224 miles per hour) to less than a tenth of a meter per second (0.6 miles per hour).

• There are no pain receptors in the brain. This explains how brain surgery can be performed with the patient fully conscious. So why do you have a headache?

• The brain is pink, not grey, because of blood flowing through 100,000 miles of blood vessels. This is the equivalent of 3 full soda cans of blood flow through the brain each minute.

• Nearly 80% of your brain is water. It is also one of the fattiest tissues (hence the term, fathead).

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46 Responses to The Brain: Fun Facts. Continuing the celebration of Brain Awareness Week.

  1. Summer Seale says:

    Actually there was a story done recently…I forgot where, but the 100 billion was an overestimation. They now believe it’s more like 86 billion (which doesn’t seem like a lot but actually is).

  2. Rajini Rao says:

    Summer Seale , good to know! These “fun facts” are going to get updated as the technology used to estimate them becomes more sophisticated.

  3. Are you following the Charlie Rose brain series? It’s online

  4. Rajini Rao says:

    praveen kulkarni , thanks for the link! Although I got a chuckle out of this: The neuron counting experiment was done on “four brains, all of them from men”. Perhaps they should have looked at women’s brains 😉

  5. If no pain receptors then why do we have headache….ny probable answer to that????

  6. Rajini Rao says:

    Sudhanshu Pathania , that is your homework assignment 🙂 Think of it as brain exercise.

  7. I can appreciated good science…thanks!

  8. Chad Haney says:

    In addition to the neurological fun facts of the brain, there’s the intricacies of the blood-brain-barrier.

  9. Rajini Rao says:

    The blood-brain barrier is amazingly tight and while it protects us from toxic compounds, it also presents a major challenge in getting therapeutic drugs to reach past into the brain. Do you have any fun facts to add, Chad Haney ? 🙂

  10. Hamid Raza says:

    braIN if that will empty will be factory of devil/////////?

  11. Rajini Rao says:

    I feel the same, Joel Colon Feliciano 🙂

  12. Rajini Rao says:

    Prabat parmal , pain is sensed by “pain receptors” on the surface of cells. These are usually ion channels that open to let ions flow into the cell. As a result an electrical signal is sent along a nerve to the brain that interprets and acts in response. Although there are no pain receptors in the brain itself, the surrounding tissues and blood vessels have them, that is why we can feel our head ache.

  13. I listen to podcasts from Dr. Ginger Campbell.. While this is a fun fact topic, I thought I will still chime in and share this one 🙂

  14. Rajini Rao says:

    Srikanth Ranganathan , awesome, thanks for the link!

  15. Chad Haney says:

    Rajini Rao, off the top of my head, I don’t have any fun facts about the BBB. My research is almost exclusively cancer and not in the brain. Tumor blood vessels, unlike the BBB are very leaky and we take advantage of that in imaging, i.e., the tumors take up more contrast agent because it leaks out. The BBB does become leaky under hemorrhagic shock conditions if I remember right, but I’m getting way off topic.

  16. Rajini Rao says:

    Good to know, Chad Haney . We dabble in cancer research by specifically looking at the role of ions in tumorigenesis. We found elevated levels of a calcium pump and intracellular calcium in breast cancer cells, and we are looking at the role of pH in glioblastomas now. Now I’m off topic too 🙂

  17. Rajini Rao says:

    I’m sorry I missed it, Henry K.O. Norman ! Have to run to a seminar now, but I will be sure to check it out, thanks for the link! Will also get back to you with my thoughts on engagement then. As for Homer Simpson, did you see my brain post yesterday with a more cerebral image? 😉

  18. Rajini Rao says:

    Yay, thanks for noticing that poor excuse of a joke, Gnotic Pasta ! My weakness for comedy is showing 😀

  19. Chad Haney says:

    Sorry Rajini Rao and Gnotic Pasta when I hear fathead, this is what first comes to my fathead.

    Rajini Rao you might be interested to know that we often can image Ca+2 channel activity with MRI by using Mn+2. Mn+2 is an OK contrast agent (some like it a lot, I don’t). Mn+2 goes through many calcium channels.

  20. Chad Haney says:

    Henry K.O. Norman you are not alone. I posted a question to “my science circle” about why the crows are acting strange.

    This is what it feels like, unless you’re hip like Rajini Rao and the other G+ celebrities.

    Don’t be discouraged though. The interaction on G+ is phenomenal even for plebs.

    Edit: pasted the same link twice. Must be the Homer Simpson image influencing my post.


  21. linda colman says:

    At 0.423 minutes into this video: it mentions that perhaps over 50% of the human brain is devoted to the visual system. Another fun fact?

  22. Rajini Rao says:

    linda colman , I listened to a few minutes and plan to watch the rest later..sounds like a great talk, thanks for the link! I’m very intrigued by the proposition that half our brain is devoted to vision! That would certainly be a fun fact, yes. I’ll have to watch the whole video to get the context.

  23. Rajini Rao here is my home assignment

    Although headaches might rarely be due to infections or diseases, most are probably the result of an inborn protective mechanism responding to an external environmental stress.

    they may also happen when blood accumulates around the brain, often from a ruptured brain aneurysm. Headaches are thought to be caused by changes in chemicals, nerves, or blood vessels in the area. These changes send pain messages to the brain and bring on a headache.

    probably when our head aches its not the brain which is in pain but the part around it and the liquid substance in which it is floating….

  24. Rajini Rao says:

    Sudhanshu Pathania , you get an A+! 🙂

    Also, as I mentioned in a comment above, there are pain receptors in the tissues surrounding the brain as well as in the blood vessels, although not in the neurons and glia of the brain itself.

  25. Rajini Rao I copied a bit frm there too…


  26. Rajini Rao says:

    Haha, Sudhanshu Pathania , I was going to lecture you on omitting references from your assignment, but I let it go. Now I see that I should have taken points off for plagiarism too 🙂 I’m such a softie.

  27. Rajini Rao I did’t cheat I just shared ur info and forgot to mention ur name at the last in bibliography ha ha…:)

  28. Rajini Rao says:

    Sudhanshu Pathania : Aha, that is citation error then. A grave mistake indeed. Million dollar grant applications have been trashed for failure to cite work of others 😉

  29. gr8 so I have given u a chance to earn a million dollars try ur luck 😉

    And many citations must have been trashed in US but not in India which is outside the jurisdiction of the federal court where I reside and have committed the crime….leave plagiarism even the conviction rate of crimes like that of Rape here is 26% here so all the best Rajini Rao …

  30. Chad Haney says:

    Rajini Rao especially forgetting to reference a referee’s own work (both for grants and manuscripts). In fact I love it when you can deduce who the referee is by the suggested references you omitted.

  31. 100 m/s is 220 mph. That’s the easiest to check, but let’s hope the rest of the facts are more accurate.

  32. Rajini Rao says:

    LOL, Dániel Darabos , when I got that number from a web site, my first thought was to double check the conversion to nonmetric, because I think the more scientific unit is likely to be accurate, and the thought crossed my mind that if it was wrong, then a G plusser would no doubt inform me. Thank you! I’m going to edit the post 🙂

  33. thanks, i know my brain a bit more now!

  34. Suhasitha S says:

    really informative. the simile, “similar to the stars in our galaxy” seems a little bit unfit. our galaxy,the milkyway has got around 400 billion stars!

  35. That’s really a good info

  36. thanks ,very interesting information

  37. Raj Kumar says:

    gud job carry on wit informative sharings

  38. Bow it is very different, is this simpson brain !!!

  39. Rajini Rao says:

    Suhasitha S , depends on which guesstimate you find more reliable?! Check out this math:

  40. thanks

    scientific knowledge

  41. Rajini Rao says:

    I’ve no idea of the basis for the 50% estimate, Henry K.O. Norman . BTW, I will get to your DNA questions on your post this weekend, now that I have some time.

  42. Rajini Rao says:

    LOL, Feisal Kamil , sarcasm for the win. Love it. I’m secretly shocked that Google plussers let me get away with only two corrections! I had to edit the speed of the action potential (metric conversion, lol) and downsize the number of neurons (14 billion lower).

  43. I tink you make my brain think I am smarter than I really am…. doh.

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