Recently, many of my friends have started blogging, or perhaps I have just tuned into a blog they already wrote. Regardless I have found it really interesting to read them, gaining insight into their lives a little more (as you’ll learn I can be nosey, but maybe it’s the psychologist inside me, that wants to know what other people are thinking of and doing with their lives). It has inspired me to start my own blog – or maybe I’m just following a fad (but who cares?). Blogging has appealed to me in the past, but I have never actually felt that I would write anything people would want to read. However, maybe blogging isn’t about the reader, but more about expressing my thoughts somewhere in a constructive way that isn’t academic.
I often get interested in a topic and wish I could write an academic paper on it (yes, I am a nerd), but I never get the chance, or maybe I merely don’t indulge in my nerdy side enough. Hopefully, by starting this blog, I will get to read more about interesting topics and learn more, and maybe people will even read it!
So my first blog is about how freaking cool the human brain and mind is. This is a topic close to my heart; as any of my friends will tell you, I am a little obsessed with anatomy, especially the brain. I think the human brain and mind is astounding and beautiful and mysterious, and I’m going to tell you why you should also think this!
So other day I was watching DIY SOS, where we met a little boy called Noah, who has Spina Bifida and hydrocephalus. Spina Bifida is a condition where the spine fails to develop properly, and hydrocephalus is a build-up of excess fluid which puts pressure on the brain, resulting can cause damage. Due to a cyst in his brain, Noah was born with just 2% of his brain (which sounds like it couldn’t/shouldn’t be possible). Astonishingly, he survived (below are his brain scans at birth and at July 2015, aged 3, I think).
Even more amazingly, Noah can see, hear and speak! He is a conscious being. Now for some people, this isn’t an incredible thing, however, if you read papers looking at consciousness, language development, or have learnt about the human brain before, this is AMAZING!
Without going into great detail, with the amount of brain that Noah possesses, it is extraordinary that he can communicate, and is conscious. This is why the human brain is a beautiful piece of engineering. Neuroplasticity allows an injured brain to create new connections between neurons and re-organise the brain. It is because of neuroplasticity that Noah is able to develop and perform the cognitive processes.
For example, if we see a horse (beware, a lot of future examples will involve horses), firstly this information is processed visually and travels to the visual cortex, and then information then travels to the Wernicke’s area – this area of the brain is concerned with the comprehension of language. Here the information is recognised as a ‘horse’. This information then travels to the Broca’s area – which is concerned with speech production. Finally, the information ends up at our motor cortex, allowing us to speak the word ‘horse’. Essentially, it takes a lot of cognitive processes for the brain to be able to perform simple tasks, like naming objects or horses.
This is why it is remarkable that Noah can communicate. It is incredible that anyone’s brain can process information like this within seconds! And yet Noah does this with only 2% of a normal brain.
So maybe I’ve gone a bit off on a tangent and been a bit nerdy and biological or academic for some (sorry, I’m new at this blogging thing), but my point is this:
Everyone complains about life. About doing this presentation for work or doing an assignment for university, or doing the dishes or having to read this book for that and such. But our brains perform a million incredible processes every day that allow us to hold a spoon, to drive, to speak.
I’m just saying that who cares if you got a 2:1 on that assignment, our brains are fucking badass, and no-one can tell you different!
Best, Em x
Ps. Here is some nerdy cool brain information if you want it and a bit about Noah (I don’t own the pictures):
Bit about Broca’s and Wernicke’s area: http://thebrain.mcgill.ca/flash/d/d_10/d_10_cr/d_10_cr_lan/d_10_cr_lan.html