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The Brain Capacity

Diri Onisogenime Orugbani was a student of the University of Port Harcourt. His a content writer and editor.

The Brain

The Brain

Introduction

The brain is the most complex part of the human body. I call it the CPU of the human body. This three pound organ is the seat of intelligence, interpreter of the senses, initiator of the body movement and the controller of behavior. Lying on its bony shell and washed by protective fluid, the brain is the source of all the qualities that define our humanity. The brain is the crown jewel of the human body.
For centuries, scientists and philosophers have been fascinated by the brain, but until recently they viewed the brain as nearly incomprehensible. However, the brain is beginning to relinquish it's secrets. Scientists have learned more about the brain in the last 10 year's than in all previous centuries because of the accelerating pace of research in neurological and behavioral science and the development of new research techniques. As a result, Congress named the 1990s the Decade of the Brain. At the forefront of research on the brain and other elements of the nervous system is the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke(NINDS), which conducts and supports scientific studies in the United States and around the world.
This facts sheet is a basic introduction to the human brain. It may help you understand how the healthy brain works, how to keep it healthy, and what happens when the brain is diseased or disfunctional.

Chapter 1
Concept of the Brain

The brain is like a committee of experts. It integrate sensory information and directs motor responses: in higher vertebrates it is also the centre of learning. The human brain weighs approximately 1.4 kg (3 pounds) and is made up of billions of cells called Neurons. Junction between Neurons, known as Synapses, enable electrical and chemical messages to be transmitted from one neuron to the next in the brain, process that underlies basic sensory functions and that is critical to learning, memory and thought formation, and other cognitive activities
In lower vertebrates the brain is tubular and resembles an early developmental stage of the brain in higher vertebrates. It consists of three distinct regions: the hindbrain, the midbrain and the forebrain. Although the brain of higher vertebrates undergoes considered modification during embryonic development, these three regions are still discernible.

The Hindbrain
The house is composed of the medulla oblongata and the pons. The medulla transmits signals between the spinal cord and the higher parts of the brain, it also controls such autonomic functions as heartbeat and respiration. The pons is partly made up of tracts connecting the spinal cord with higher brain levels, and it also contains cell groups that transfer information from the cerebrum to the cerebellum.

The Midbrain
The midbrain is the upper portion which evolved from the optic lobes, is the main centre of sensory integration in fish and amphibians. It also is involved with integration in reptiles and birds. In mammals the midbrain is greatly reduced, serving primarily as a connecting link between the hindbrain and the forebrain. Connected to the medulla, pons and midbrain by large bundles of fibres is the Cerebellum. Relatively large in humans, this "little brain" controls balance and coordination by producing smooth, coordinated movements of muscle groups.

The Forebrain
The forebrain is the largest and most highly developed part of the human brain. It consists primarily of the cerebrum and the structures hidden beneath it. When people see pictures of the brain it is usually the cerebrum that notice that. The Cerebrum sits at the topmost part of the brain and is the source of intellectual activities. It holds your memories, allows you to plan, enables you to imagine and think. It allows you to recognize friends, read books and play games.
The cerebrum is split into two halves(hemispheres) by a deep fissure. Despite the slip, the two cerebral hemispheres communicate with each other through a thick of nerve fibers that lies at the base of this fissure. Although the two hemispheres seem to be mirror images of each other, they are different. For instance, the ability to form words seems to like primarily in the left hemisphere, while the right hemisphere seems to control many abstract reasoning skills. For some as-yet-unknown reason, nearly all of the signals from the brain to the body and vice versa cross over on their way to and from the brain. This means that the right cerebral hemisphere primarily controls the left side of the body and the left hemisphere primarily controls the right side. So when you side of the brain is damaged and opposite side is affected. For example, a stroke in the right hemisphere of the brain can leave the left arm and leg paralyzed.

Relationship of the brain and our senses

Each cerebral hemisphere can be divided into sections, or lobes, each of which specializes in different functions. To understand each lobe and it's speciality we will take a tour of the cerebral hemispheres, starting with the two frontal lobe, which lie directly behind the forehead. When you plan a schedule, imagine the future, or use reasoned arguments, these two lobes do much of the work. One of the ways the frontal lobes seem to do these things is by acting as short-term storage sites, allowing one idea to be kept in mind while other ideas are considered. In the rearmost portion of each frontal lobe is a motor area, which helps control voluntary movement. A nearby place on the left frontal lobe called Broca's area, allows thoughts to be transformed into words.
When you enjoy a good meal; the taste, aroma, and texture of the food , the two sections behind the frontal lobes called the Parietal lobes are at work. The forward parts of these lobes, just behind the motor areas are the primary sensory areas. These areas receive information about temperature, taste, touch, and movement from the rest of the body. Reading and arithmetic are also functions in the repertoire of each please lobe. As you look at the words and pictures on this page, two areas at the brain are at work. These lobes are called the Occipital lobes, process images from the eyes and link that information with images stored in memory. Damage to the occipital lobes can cause blindness.
The last lobe on our tour is the temporal lobes, which lie in front of the visual areas and nest under the parietal and frontal lobes. Whether you appreciate symphonies or rock music, your brain responds through the activity of these lobes. At the top of each temporal lobe is an area responsible for receiving information from the ears. The underside of each temporal lobe plays a crucial role in forming and retrieving memories, including those associated with music. Other parts of this lobe seem to integrate memories and sensations of taste, sound, sight and touch.

The Cerebral Cortex
Coating the surface of the Cerebrum and the Cerebellum is a vital layer of tissue the thickness of a stack of two or three dimes. It is called the Cortex, from the Latin word for bark. Most of the actual information processing in the brain takes place in the cerebral cortex. When people talk about the "grey matter" in the brain they are talking about this thin rind. The cortex is gray because nerves in this area lack the insulation that makes most other parts of the brain appear to be white. The folds in the brain add to it's surface area and therefore increase the amount of gray matter and the quantity of information that can be processed.

The Inner Brain
Deep within the brain, hidden from view, lie structures that are the gatekeepers between the spinal cord and the cerebral hemispheres. These structures not only determine our emotional state, they also modify our perceptions and responses depending on that state, and allow us to initiate movements that you make without thinking about them. Like the lobes in the Cerebral hemispheres, the structures described below come in pairs: each is duplicated in the opposite half of the brain.
The hypothalamus which is about the size of a pearl, directs a multitude of important functions. It wakes you up in the morning, and gets the adrenaline flowing during a test or job interview. The hypothalamus is also an important emotional center, controlling the molecules that make you feel exhilarated, angry, or unhappy. Near the hypothalamus lies the Thalamus. The Thalamus is a major clearinghouse for information going to and from the spinal cord and the cerebrum.
An arching tract of nerve cells leads from the hypothalamus and the Thalamus to the hippocampus. This tiny nub acts as a memory indexer-sending memories out of the appropriate part of the cerebral hemisphere for long term storage and retrieving them when necessary. The basal ganglia(not shown) are clusters of nerve cells surrounding the thalamus. They are responsible for initiating and integrating movements.

Chapter 2
The brain memory capacity

The brains memory capacity of an adult can store trillions of bytes of information. In a Stanford study, it was reported that the cerebral cortex alone has 25 trillions synapses. It was also reported in another study, that 1 synapse can store 4.7 bits of information. In case you don't understand, Neurons are the cells which process and transmits messages within the brain and synapses are the bridges between Neurons which carry the messages. Running the numbers - 125 trillion synapses - 4.7 bits/synapse, and about 1 trillion bytes equalling 1 Terabyte.
If you have a fairly new computer, tablet, or smartphones, you understand the phrase "megabytes" and "gigabytes", this knowledge might help put your brains immense information storage capacity into perspective. Early generation personal computers had at best, a few megabytes of hard drive information storage capability. That's a few million pieces of digital memory - seemingly a lot at the time, but small by today's standards.For instance, it is not uncommon for today's smart phones to have "gigabytes" (16gb, 64gb, 128gb) of memory capacity or more. To put this in perspective, the computer onboard the first Apollo spacecraft that landed on the moon had an operating system with just 64 kilobytes (64kb) of memory storage capability. The computer in that example could handle just over 64 thousand bytes, which is just over 64 thousand characters of Information. Today, most digital toasters have more computing power than Apollo 11 had, and your average smartphone is literally light years ahead the computer that guided and controlled that spaceship.
Bringing this back to the human brain, according to scientific research in 2010, the memory capacity of the human brain was reported to have the equivalent of 2.5 petabytes of memory capacity. As a number, a "Petabytes" means 1024 terabytes or a million gigabytes, so the average adult brain has the ability to store the equivalent of 2.5 million gigabytes digital memory. Interesting right??
To put that in perspective, Yahoo(the Internet giant) has created a specially-built 2.0 petabyte "data warehouse". Yahoo uses the immense information storage capacity of this data warehouse to analyze the behavior of it's half a billion monthly visitors. It is not only the world's single largest database, but also the busiest. By comparison, the IRS's own massive data warehouse, which keeps track of 300 plus million Americans and many more million businesses, has the capacity of 150 terabytes of memory. Yet Yahoo's 2.0 petabyte computational center, which can process 24 billion events a day, is a full 20% smaller than the capacity of a single human brain.
The human brain is indeed a marvel, with more capabilities than most of us can imagine. As more studies are coming out - it is only a matter of time until we truly find out how much the human brain can store information.


Chapter 3
How to improve the brain memory capacity

A strong memory depends on the health and vitality of your brain. Whether you're a student studying for final exams, a working professional interested in doing all you can to stay sharp, or an elderly looking to preserve and enhance your grey matter as you age, there's lots you can do to improve your memory and mental performance, these tips can help:
1) Try out a new activity:
One of the ways to improve the brain function is by trying out a new activity unknown to you, which enables sharp thinking. Repeating one's usual schedule over and over again limits the brains capacity to go all out hereby reducing brain sharpness. Try new activities like playing of the instrument, learning a new language or a new hobby. And if you have the above skills try other which that will actively stimulate your brain.

2) Feed your brain with healthy nutritious foods that stimulates brain function:
Eating is probably what everyone loves doing but the question remains do you eat healthy? Brain sharpness and improvement also works hand in hand with what we take in. Remember, you can't feed a car with kerosine, you feed it with petrol. So that's how our brains are, you have to feed it with nutritious foods to help it's sharpness. Some good foods include; Fruits, Vegetables, Fish, Nuts, Unsaturated oils(olive oil) and proteins from plant sources.

3) Engage in physical activities
Physical activity is good for the body and mind as it increases oxygen flow, as well as the growth of new nerve cells and connections or synapses between brain cells. Exercise helps lower blood pressure and can improve cholesterol levels while reducing stress, which helps keep the brain in top form and sharp as well.

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4) Sleep well
During sleep, your brain works overtime to repair itself, so don't skip the shot eye. The brain is not a machine and even machines tends to wear out when over used, so enough sleep is required to keep it very sharp but too much of sleep in the other hand, can lead to negative consequences such as inactivity and obesity. Therefore, moderation is required when having enough sleep.

5) Use all your senses:
Research suggest that using all your senses may help strengthen your brain. To give your senses and your brain a workout, try doing activities that simultaneously engage all five of your senses. You could try visiting a farmer's market, baking a batch of cookies or trying a new restaurant while you focus on smelling, touching, tasting, seeing and hearing all at the same time.

6) Try Meditating:
Daily meditation can calm your body, slow your breathing and reduce stress and anxiety. But did you know that it may also help fine tune your memory and increase your brains ability to process information? Well, it pretty much does. Find a quiet spot, close your eyes, and spend five minutes meditating each day.

7) Take up a Tai chi lesson:
It's no secret that Tai chi can benefit your health in many ways, including your mental health. Plus, it can also help center you when life seems out of balance. Taking up a regular practice of Tai chi can help reduce stress, enhance sleep quality, and improve memory. Research shows that long term Tai chi practice could induce structural changes in the brain, resulting in an increase in brain volume. Beginners do best by taking a class to learn the direct movements. But once you know the basics, you can practice Tai chi anywhere, anytime.

8) Avoid excessive drinking:
It's true that moderate consumption of alcohol may have a positive effect on memory, but keep in mind that moderate means just one drink for women and two for men each day. Drinking more than that can have a negative effect on your ability to retain information as well as your sleep.

9) Manage your blood pressure and sugar levels:
Having high blood pressure can lead to cognitive decline as well as heart problems. While a high sugar level on the other hand, can lead to diabetes which is a risk factor for dementia, so eat right, exercise and maintain a healthy weight. Seek the doctors advise and recommendation to keep both situations under control.

10) Avoid certain medications
While you should still take your medications prescribed by your doctor, remember to follow your doctor's instructions for dietary and lifestyle changes too. Some prescriptions, like statins for high cholesterol, have been associated with memory loss and brain fog. Losing weight and eating healthier may also play a role in treatment high cholesterol. Other medications that might affect memory and brain sharpness include;
* antidepressant
* antianxiety medications
* hypertension drugs
* sleeping aids
* metformin
Talk to your doctor about how to manage your medical conditions so you don't have to rely on prescription forever. If you're worried about how a medication may affect your memory, talk to your doctor about your options.

11) Manage stress
When you're stressed, your body releases stress hormones like cortisol. Cortisol has been shown to greatly impair the brains memory process reducing brain sharpness, especially our ability to retrieve long term memories. Stress and depression have even been shown in animal studies to shrink the brain. Ways to manage stress are;
* Not overworking yourself out
* Minimizing phone use and screen time
* Practicing self care
* Resting etc.

12) Socialize often
Humans are social creatures. Research shows that a strong support system is vital to our emotional and brain health. People with very active social lives had the slowest memory decline according to a 2007 study. Just 10 minutes of talking to another person was shown to improve memory.

13) Drinking enough of water
Our brain is made mostly of water. Water acts as a shock absorber for the brain and spinal cord. It helps our brain cells use nutrients. So just a small amount of dehydration can have disastrous effects. Mild dehydration has been shown to cause brain shrinkage and memory impairment. Aim for at least eight to ten glasses per day, or more if you're very active.

14) Try acronyms, abbreviations and mnemonics
As a student have you thought of a way to make your brain 10 times sharper? Well, AAM is the way. Mnemonics have been tested since the 1960s as an effective strategy for students. You've probably been taught s few mnemonics devices for remembering long lists. For example, the colors of the spectrum can be remembered with the name ROY G. BIV(Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet).

15) Try brain exercises
Research has shown that there are many ways you can hone your mental sharpness and help your brain stay healthy, no matter what age you are. Doing certain brain exercises to help boost brain sharpness, memory, concentration and focus. Examples of brain exercises includes;
* Jigsaw puzzle: Whether you're putting together a 1,000 piece image of the Effect Tower or joining 100 pieces to make Mickey House, working on a jigsaw puzzle is an excellent way to strengthen your brain.
Research has shown that doing jigsaw puzzles recruits multiple cognitive abilities and is a protective factor for visuospatial cognitive aging. In other words, when putting together a jigsaw puzzle, you have to look at different pieces and figure out where they fit within the larger picture. This can be a great way to challenge and exercise your brain.
* Game of cards: When last did you play a game of cards? Researchers who conducted a study in 2015 on mentally stimulating activities for adults, says a quick card game can lead to greater volume of several regions of the brain. The same study also found out that a game of cards could improve memory and thinking skills.
* Building your vocabulary: A rich vocabulary has a way of making you sound smart. But did you know, you can also turn a quick vocabulary lesson into a stimulating brain game? Well, research shows that many more regions of the brain are involved in vocabulary tasks, particularly in areas that are important for visual and auditory processing. To test this theory, try this cognitive boosting activities like;
1.Keeping a notebook with you when reading.
2.Writing down one unfamiliar word and looking up for the definition.
3.Try using that word five times the next days.


Chapter 4
Brain Disorders

Your brain is your body's control center. It's part of the nervous system, which also includes the spinal cord and a large network of nerves and neutrons. Together, the nervous system controls everything from your senses to the muscles throughout your body. When your brain is damaged, it can affect many different things including your memory, your sensation and even your personality.
Brain Disorders include any conditions or disabilities that affect your brain. This includes conditions that are caused by;
* Illness
* Genetics
* Traumatic injury
This is a broad category of disorders, which vary greatly in symptoms and severity. Keep reading to learn about some of the largest categories of brain disorders.
1) Brain Injuries
Brain Injuries are often caused by blunt trauma. Trauma can damage brain tissue, neurons, and nerves. This damage affects your brains ability to communicate with the rest of your body.
Examples of brain Injuries include:
* Blood clots
* Contusion or bruising of brain tissues
* Hematomas
* Strokes
* Concussions
* Cerebral edema or swelling inside the skull

Symptoms
Examples of the symptoms of a brain injury includes:
* Vomiting
* Bleeding from the ear
* Nausea
* Speech difficulty
* Numbness
* Paralysis
* Memory loss
* Problems with concentration
* High blood pressure
* Irregular breathing

Treatment
Depending on the type of injury you have, the treatment may include medication, rehabilitation or brain surgery.

2) Brain Tumors
Sometimes, tumors form in the brain and can be very dangerous. These are called primary brain tumors. In other cases, cancer somewhere else in your body spreads to your brain. These are called secondary or metastatic brain tumors. Brain Tumors can be either malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous). Doctors classify brain tumors as grades 1, 2, 3, or 4. Higher numbers indicate more aggressive tumors. The causes of brain tumors is largely unknown and it can occur in people if any age. Symptoms of brain tumors depends on the size and location of the tumor.

Symptoms
The most common symptoms of brain tumors are:
* Headaches
* Numbness or tingloi in in your arms or legs
* Nausea
* Seizures
* Vomiting
* Changes in personality
* Difficulty with movement or balance
* Changes in your hearing, speech or vision

Treatment
The type of treatment you'll receive depends on many different factors such as the size of the tumor, your age, and your overall health. The main types of treatment for brain tumors are:
* Chemotherapy
* Surgery
* Radiation therapy

3) Neurodegenerative Diseases
Neurodegenerative Diseases cause your brain and nerves to deteriorate over time. They can change your personality and cause confusion. They can also destroy your brains tissue and nerves.
Some brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease may develop as you age. They can slowly impair your memory and thought processes. Other disease such as Tay-Sachs disease are genetic and begin at an early age. Other common neurodegenerative diseases includes:
* Huntington's disease
* Parkinson's disease
* ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) or Lou Gehrig's disease
* All forms of dementia

Symptoms
Some of the more common symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases includes:
* Memory loss
* Forgetfulness
* Apathy
* Anxiety
* Agitation
* A loss of inhibition
* Mood changes
Neurodegenerative diseases cause permanent damage, so symptoms tend to get worse as the disease progresses. New symptoms are also likely to develop over time.

Treatment
There's no cure for neurodegenerative diseases but treatment can still help to reduce symptoms and maintain quality of life.

4) Mental Disorders
Mental Disorders or mental illnesses are a large and diverse group of conditions that affect your behavior patterns. Some of the most frequently diagnosed mental disorders are:
* Depression
* Anxiety
* Bipolar disorder
* Schizophrenia
* Post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD)

Symptoms
The symptoms of mental disorders vary based on the condition. Different people can experience the same mental disorders very differently. You should talk to your doctor if you notice a change in your behavior, thought patterns, or moods.

Treatment
The two major types of treatment for mental disorders are medication and psychotherapy. Different methods work better for different conditions. Many people find that a combination of the two is the most effective.


Chapter 5
Risk factors, Diagnosis and Long-time outlook of brain disorders
Risk factors
Brain disorders can affect anyone. Risk factors are different for different types of brain disorders.
•Traumatic brain injury is most common in children under 4 years old, young adults between 15 and 25 years old and adults of 65 and older.
•Brain Tumors can affect people at any age. Your personal risk depends on your genetics and your exposure to environmental risk factors like radiation.
•For Neurodegenerative diseases, older age and family history are the most significant risk factors.
•Mental Disorders on the other hand, are very common. About 1 in 5 American adults has experienced a mental health condition. Your risk may be higher if you: Have a family history of mental illness, have or have had traumatic/stressful experiences. have a history of misusing alcohol or drugs and have or have had a traumatic brain injury.

Diagnosis
Brain disorders can be examined by a primary care physician or a neurological specialist. The doctor will likely perform a neurological exam to check your vision, hearing and balance. Your doctor may also get images of your brain to help them make a diagnosis. The most common diagnostic imaging tools are CT, MRI, and PET scans.
Your doctor might also need to study fluid from your brain and spinal cord. This helps them find bleeding in the brain, infection and other abnormalities. Mental health disorders are usually diagnosed based on an evaluation of your symptoms and history.

Long-term outlook
The outlook of people with brain disorders depends on the type and severity of the brain disorder. Some conditions are easily treated with medication and therapy. For example, millions of people with mental disorders live perfectly normal lives. Other disorders like Neurodegenerative diseases and some traumatic brain injuries, have no cure. People with these conditions often face permanent changes in their behavior, mental abilities or coordination. In these cases, treatment will try help you manage your illness and retain as much Independence as possible.


Conclusion

Mental health is one of the most important factor in everyone's life and focusing on your brain health is one of the best things you can do to improve your concentration, memory and mental ability. The mental health activities in this book is note for reading purposes only, as it we help in fighting against some of the brain disorders listed above. In case, your suffering from any mental disorders or notice any symptoms in relation to a mental disorders please visit your doctor immediately to avoid serious cases of the disease. Regular check ups is also advised and it's required you visit a neurologist once a year to check on your brain just to be safe.

© 2022 Diri Onisogenime Orugbani

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