7 Scary Facts You Didn’t Know About Your Brain

You think you know your brain? Well, think again. It is our most important organ, no doubt! But it can indeed trick you & the scare the shit out of you.

Let’s scare ourselves spot on & in the final point you will see how being scared can be positive as well 😉

1.     Your neurons are cannibals

Your brain, as they say, occupies hardly 2% of your body weight but still consumes almost 25% of the body energy. The tens of billions of neurons in our brain require constant energy input. Keep them devoid of energy and they will start eating themselves, spreading a ruckus around your brain. When your stomach is rumbling with hunger, your neurons are hungry too & this is when they begin to eat parts of themselves for energy. This very cannibalism is a part of the communication process urging you to eat. So dieting, my friends, is a bad idea for a healthy brain.

2.     Your brain will get you stuck in an endless loop if you don’t deal with unfinished thoughts

All of us, sometime or the other, have been a victim of some catchy song or tune being stuck in our head for days. Scientist have named this phenomenon as ‘Earworm’. They say that basically the brain hates unfinished thoughts & has a constant urge to do something about it. So if you might have noticed the earworms that get stuck in your head, it is mainly a repetition of the same verse/stanza. The brain wouldn’t know the complete song or you wouldn’t give it a chance to finish the song. As per its natural instinct of finishing the unfinished business, it would start the song over & over again in an effort to finish it. This way urging you to listen to the song again so that it can finish its business.

This also raises the point of semantic satiation wherein if you feed too much of one word or song to your brain, it ultimately ends up losing the meaning & significance of it. It is marked as a finished thought & is the brain’s way to ask you to move on and not be over-obsessed with one thing. However, semantic satiation is generally a temporary phenomenon & so is Earworm. If you know this & condition your brain accordingly, you can in fact play around & have some fun 😀

3.     Too much of sleep will retard your brain

Too much of sleep is as bad as lack of sleep. As per various researches, your brain can age more if you sleep too much as there is more activity going on in your brain while asleep. This does not however mean that you should sleep as less as possible. Right amount of sleep of 6 to 8 hours every day is the key. We tend to feel unsteady & bleary after having too much of sleep. This is because your mind gets confused as if it is drunk or satiated and leaves you in an intermediate state between sleeping & waking. Sleep-drunk people could really be dangerous to themselves & to others, especially on the road.

4.     Your brain is wired for hallucinations

If you think only drugs can induce hallucinations, well think again. Various phenomena have been

discovered occurring in the brain inducing hallucinations as well as synesthesia. Use of psychedelics just triggers this neuronal wiring that we already have in our brains. The most common phenomenon that we experience is Hypnagogia. Hypnagogic hallucinations occur to us in the short time span when we are falling asleep but are not actually asleep. They are clearly vivid & extremely lucid generally. Same way, hypnapompic hallucinations occur when we are just waking up but are not actually awake. I have successfully tried lucid dreaming & I strongly believe that hypnagogia is the gateway to a lucid dream and a lucid dream is so much like an extended state of hypnagogia. Lucid dreaming is yet another unexplained hallucinatory singularity within our brains. And it further substantiates that ‘inception’ is real too.

Yet another way your brain can induce hallucinations has to do with sensory deprivation. Scientists put subjects in what is called an ‘anechoic room’ which blocks noise & light. Such an environment distinctly arises hallucinations as the mind gets confused & it has the compulsion of creating something to fill the void. This leads to auditory as well as visual hallucinations. So meditation, my friends, is just a way for us to first create the void & then enjoy the hallucinations induced by the void.

At the Orfield Laboratory in Minnesota, scientists have developed an ‘anechoic room’ with a rating of -9.4 decibels sound pressure level. Also known as the quietest room on Earth, no one has been able to resist hallucinatory effects here where you can clearly listen the sound of your heart valves pumping blood or the sound that ear produces itself to fill the void. Sounds scary, eh?!

This video explains how the anechoic chamber is designed & how it works:

But not to worry mates, if you check out the etymology of the word ‘hallucination’, it simply means wandering inside the mind! And if wandering through space & universe is good, shouldn’t we take out some time every day to wander within our minds first and actually make use of this archaic ability of our own mind which we have retained over the course of brain evolution?

In fact, we can actually trigger hallucinations through a lot more activities & brain conditioning which we shall discuss some other time. Just for now, let me tell you, people using psychedelics have an upper hand here 😉

5.     What you see with your eyes is not real

Yes, however discomforting this thought might be, but it’s a reality. The light actually falls on our retina in a two-dimensional fashion but in the three-dimensional world we live in, our brain has to take the best guess and convert that into a three-dimensional form. So all that we see is just an approximated viewable image produced by our own brain.

Visual sense might be the most powerful sense that we have as humans but it can still trick you in believing what is not real. And this happens as our most powerful sense trumps other senses in to believing what is not true by dominating or over-powering the information captured by the other senses. Check out the video for one such effect called the McGurk effect!

6.     Pain is a myth

There are no pain receptors in the brain. This is the reason doctors perform brain surgery while the patient is wide awake & conscious. Pain is just a process of communication which the brain thinks is effective & imminent for survival. The moment it realizes that the pain is no more a survival threat, it would stop sending pain signals even if there actually is body damage. The brain creates pain but has smartly kept itself aloof from that sensation. You can in fact condition your mind to believe everything is normal and survive through great amounts of pain. Or you can just divert your mind from a state of pain by feeding it with some other extreme state of emotion or excitement. As they say, pain is just a state of mind, after all.

Following video explains the greatest irony of neuroscience: “All pain is in the brain yet no pain is felt by the brain”

Now that you are probably scared of what all crazy things your brain is capable of, let me bring forth the final point which deals with being scared.

7.     When you’re scared, you tend to be sex-hungry!

Well, don’t scare yourself too death already :D! When you’re scared, your brain releases a neurotransmitter called Dopamine which is responsible not just for igniting the sexual fire but also providing fuel to the fire. As dopamine rises, so does testosterone, the hormone responsible for sexual desires in both males & females alike. However, dopamine is also released when you experience extremes of emotions and at various other occassions, as we discussed in this article.

Sources: [1], [2]

Further Tripping:

“The 5 most terrifying ways your brain can turn you”

“How your eyes trick your mind”

“5 mind-blowing ways your senses lie to you every day”

“10 weird ways your brain is tricking you”

About Hardeep Pathak

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  1. I bow down humbly in the presence of such gretaness.

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