The human brain is the most complex organ in the human body.
And I'm sure you already know that!
We're not going to discuss its complexity below...
Instead, you'll learn some fascinating stuff and practical tips
that you can take advantage of and improve your living!
The human brain is divided into three main parts, each with distinctive functions, and two of these parts are similar to the brains of apes.
The first part is known as the reptilian brain.
It regulates the bodily functions we don’t consciously control, like breathing, heartbeat, blood pressure and sweating.
This brain guides our instinct behaviors such as hunger, fear,
fight or flight response when we're in danger,
desire for power, territory and sex.
Second is the mammalian brain, which constantly scans
our environment for danger or reward.
It’s also the emotional center of our brain.
As psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk (2014) describes
"it is the seat of emotions, the monitor of danger, the judge of what is scary or pleasurable, the arbiter of what is important
for survival purposes".
You can imagine the function of the mammalian brain as when preschoolers running and doing as they please in a room.
Then the teacher (prefrontal cortex brain) walks in the room and everything is brought under control and order.
The third section is what sets us apart from all other living creatures.
This is the prefrontal cortex (the human brain).
The prefrontal cortex is responsible for logic, reason, analysis, and handling emotions that arise from other parts of the brain
and it’s called the control center.
This region of the human brain takes time to develop.
It usually reaches full maturity when you hit your mid-twenties.
We need our mammalian and prefrontal cortex synchronized.
Let's say your employer is hostile to you and you feel a sudden
urge to slap him in the face...
This is the emotional reaction of the mammalian brain.
But if you take a breath, you’ll realize that slapping him would be a mistake for your career and also result in a lawsuit.
So naturally, you decide to calm down.
This is your prefrontal cortex doing its job and preventing you
from unwanted behavior.
The human brain is an incredible
Chemicals influence our emotions, but the good news is that
we can influence our chemicals.
Our brain chemicals regulate our mood, and to function well,
the brain needs just the right amount of them.
We also need certain brain chemicals to help us scan the world
for potential dangers and react.
For instance, when we feel threatened, our brain releases
the chemicals cortisol and adrenaline.
Both are survival-related because they increase your focus,
but at the same time, they increase your stress levels.
(If you're facing too much stress in your life check this course)
Three chemicals regulate reward: dopamine, which induces pleasure, norepinephrine, which sparks interest, and oxytocin, which helps us trust and bond with others.
We always try to do activities that release the most dopamine overall.
Healthy and useful activities such as exercise, reading a book, meditation or working towards a goal, release dopamine
at normal levels.
But then comparing to addictive activities such as junk food,
watching porn, cocaine, release dopamine but in larger amounts.
How much larger?
4 to 6 times the amount released by the former activities.
There are cells in your brain which directly respond to dopamine,
called dopamine receptors.
When you indulge in addictive behavior, your receptors are hit with more dopamine than they can handle.
And while it feels good, in the long-term this can damage your
normal function of the brain.
(If you're having some addictive behavior check this website)
The point is the brain has to maintain a balance of chemicals.
Normally a healthy person receives most of his dopamine from
healthy, helpful activities.
And so, his dopamine receptors stay sharp and efficient.
Oxytocin builds your social life, and the good feelings you get when you trust another person is because of the release of oxytocin in your brain.
When you’re being nice to someone also results
in the release of oxytocin!
Every experience of social belonging triggers oxytocin and
oxytocin plays a central role throughout our social development.
When a child is born, oxytocin is released in its mother’s brain,
causing her to feel good and motivating her to look after her newborn.
Oxytocin also flows in the child’s brain, building the attachment between parent and child.
Young human children, much like other mammals, cling to
their mothers without knowing why.
Oxytocin is the reason – it just feels good.
When we meet another human being, our brain changes and
reshapes with every interaction.
First, it triggers a threat reaction, making us eager to give the best possible impression.
Once we get to know better other people this threat reaction lowers and our oxytocin levels increase.
An Interesting fact is that the number of people you can have a
stable social relationship with is limited, and that number
normally is around 150.
Also, you can on purpose increase your oxytocin for example
by hugging people or high-fiving with others.
If you watched NBA games you’ve seen the players high-fiving all the time right?
There’s a study on that, proving that teams perform better when
they give those handshakes or back slaps.
Doing that creates more oxytocin, which increases trust and
bond within the teams.
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Serotonin is released when we assert our position in the social hierarchy by dominating others.
Most people probably wouldn’t immediately agree that
dominating others makes them feel good.
Such an admission feels awkward at first.
But our brain rewards us whenever others respect our position
in the social hierarchy.
The reason for this becomes clear when we look at animals...
Those who dominate others have better access to food and
more mating opportunities.
So despite our attempts to promote fairness and kindness in
modern society, we still feel good when we occupy positions
of power and dominance.
Cortisol grabs our attention whenever our survival is threatened.
For example, cortisol is released whenever you’re hungry,
motivating your brain to look for ways to fulfill this feeling.
Here, the solution is easy most of the time...
just go to the fridge and grab a snack!
Cortisol control your body carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
Regulates your blood pressure, and controls your sleep cycle.
Several structures in our brain, collectively called the limbic system, manage all of the chemicals responsible for our happiness.
These happy chemicals are endorphin, dopamine,
oxytocin & serotonin.
They are released each time we see something that is good
for our survival.
Whenever we sense something, the limbic makes a quick assessment to “decide” whether or not something is worth to stream the happy chemicals.
Neural pathways are mainly formed when we are young,
so each time we experienced something nice as a child,
a neuro-chemical connection was built or strengthened.
For example, when you were hungry as a child, that experience probably made you feel bad and cry.
If your mom gave you a cookie to ease your hunger,
you probably felt better.
If this happens a few times a connection between your
neurons is formed.
That’s why you now reach out for a cookie whenever you feel bad,
your brain formed a connection between eating cookies
and a happy feeling.
The happy chemicals endorphin & dopamine are released whenever you expect a reward, and it’s what motivates you
to keep seeking it.
Your subconscious mind is constantly looking for rewards
in your environment.
When it finds one, dopamine motivates you to go for it
and helps you manage the energy it takes to get it.
Another happy chemical, endorphin, is triggered by physical pain.
Of course, physical pain does not make us happy.
Endorphin serves and assists to hide the pain to help you
to keep going.
If you’re a runner you’ve likely experienced “runner’s high”,
that feeling you get after pushing yourself beyond your limit and running that extra mile.
With this rush of endorphin, you feel incredible instead of drained.
Our ancestors used endorphins to help them survive.
Neurons that fire together, wire together.
Neuroplasticity is the ability of the human brain regions and
connections to adopt new roles and functions.
The relation between neuroplasticity and learning is that when
we learn we form new pathways in the brain.
Each new lesson has the potential to connect new neurons and
change our brain’s default mode of operation.
So let’s say we think about something from a different perspective, learn a new task or choose a different emotion…
We start consciously firing a new neural pathway and if we keep moving towards that new road over time, our brain gets used to it
and it becomes second nature.
The old neurons pathways get used less and weaken and that’s the process of rewiring your brain by forming new neural connections and weakening old ones is practically
neuroplasticity in action.
This is so crucial when you want to change some bad habits or
feelings in your life…
Because scientist 20 years ago thought that a human can learn during childhood and the human brain cannot change further as life goes on.
Brains can physically change, and you can direct the ways
your brain develops and how it affects your behavior.
Our brains are constantly building new cells, and new networks between them.
Recently has been discovered that learning actually causes
the growth of new cells; our behavior affects brain cell growth,
resulting in better brain function.
Neuroplasticity practically tells us that a person with a growth mindset believes that he or she can get smarter, better,
or more skilled at something through sustained effort.
You can say that a growth mindset is simply accepting the idea of neuroplasticity on a broad level!
Here are some ways that by practicing over time
can make your brain sharp!
Writing is an extraordinary exercise for your brain.
It stimulates your creativity and improves your intelligence levels.
Fast once every month.
It will flush out toxins from your brain and body.
Don’t sleep for more than 8 hours...
It makes the human brain lethargic.
Don’t sleep for less than 6 hours, because sleep deprivation overloads our brain with the stress hormone cortisol, resulting in decreased ability to learn and memory problems.
(Master your mornings and sleep with this course)
Learn to breathe deeply.
Deep breathing leads to more oxygen supply to your brain,
which means an overall better function of the brain.
Lack of oxygen for 5-10 minutes results in irreversible brain damage.
By using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) researchers
founded that meditation has the effect of quieting
the human brain amygdala.
That’s why after you meditate, you feel calmer.
Meditation also increases activity in your brain’s prefrontal cortex, making you feel happier, more at peace and balanced.
(If you don't know how, try the beginner meditation way)
75 percent of our brains are made out of the water, and dehydration causes our brain to slow down and age.
That means if you want to stay focused & have a healthy brain...
It makes sense to drink plenty of water every day right?
Exercise helps our brains to grow, improves the quality of connections between synapses and repairs damaged cells.
If you exercise regularly, you’re probably familiar with that
rewarding post-workout feeling.
This is because you’re experiencing your brain producing chemicals that reduce anxiety and increase your confidence.
-Humans grow faster at night than they do during the day because
a small part of the human brain, the pituitary gland, releases a growth hormone at night while a person sleeps.
-A woman’s brain shrinks during pregnancy and takes up to
six months to regain its full size.
-Approximately 20% of the total oxygen in the body is used
by the brain.
The human brain also uses 20% of the body’s total blood.
-The human brain treats rejection like physical pain.
-Memories and information primarily stored in the brain are those with stronger emotional impact on our mental state.
We can recall the day we had a breakup, but it’s hard for us
to remember what we had for breakfast 3 days ago.
-The human brain can store an estimated 2,500,000 gigabytes.
That's equivalent to 200 years worth of TV shows.
-Brain information travels up to 260 miles (420Km) per hour.
Here you can check additional brain facts:
Developing a positive attitude and preventing mental decline all starts by knowing how the human brain works and
how to handle it.
By practicing some of the things mentioned above and engaging in physical and mental exercise, you can get the most out of your brain and your life.
Remember that to keep your brain healthy, you must learn
To live means to constantly choose whether it’s worth giving something up to gain something else.
Don’t be like those people who second guess every decision they’ve made, always looking back to find missed opportunities.
This will only trigger unhappy chemicals!
When you learn to focus your thoughts and view emotions like
an outsider, you can control your behavior, make positive long-term changes and readjust your brain.
What's something fascinating about the human brain you admire?
Leave a comment below with your thoughts...
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