79 – Brain

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I like walking on the beach. It is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Sometimes I start my walk knowing the topic to ponder. Other times, an idea emerges from the mental abyss. Sometimes, like today, an idea appears from nowhere. Why not think about the part thinking?

Yes – the brain – that 3-4 pound (1.2-1.5 kg) neural mass of gray and white matter housed within our skull. Although weighing only 2 percent or less of our body weight, the brain uses 25% of our total calories to function.

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The brain controls our body activities, stores and recalls our memories, and coordinates various activities as digestion, breathing, heartbeat, body temperature, blood sugar level, and much more. No wonder the brain is a network of 80-90 billion nerve cells called neurons.

The brain makes us individuals. Our brains are similar to each other, yet each of us is different. Toss in the human experience of wide-ranging emotions from happy to sad to anger and more, the brain gives us different personalities allowing each of us to have different levels of trust, empathy, sense of humor, communication skills, analytical abilities, and more.

The brain transforms images from the eyes into our real-time 3-D theater accompanied by sound, taste, smell, and touch; something that movie theaters cannot do. However, our interpretation of that experience is subjective as we apply personalized meaning and value to everything – and that meaning and value will be different for each of us.

The brain takes in countless bits of information to analyze, discard, store, and recall. Sometimes we struggle to retrieve information that we know is there – yet – it is difficult to forget something that we want to forget. We also easily recall something meaningless from second grade but struggle with something from yesterday.

Always buzzing, humming, and racing, the brain never sleeps. Body functions still need controlled and coordinated 24-7-365. Sensations are still notes – let alone the night-time activity of dreams accompanying our sleep. Sometimes dreams are so furious, the racing mind prevents us from sleeping.

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The brain increases awareness of our surroundings, plus gives us sensations like hunger, thirst, and pain. It influences our perceptions, thoughts, and feelings while projecting us for others to notice and evaluate with their brain.

The brain is not only what differentiates us from each other, it separates humans from the rest of the living world. Our brain is not the largest because elephants and whales have larger brains. But it’s our brain’s complexity – the interconnectivity of the billions of neurons makes the difference. Yes – the human brain is special.

We are social creatures with a brain wired for communicating language, emotions, memory, problem-solving, and more. Compared to us, animals in the wild spend much more time seeking and eating food for maintaining their basic survival needs. We are not the only social creatures, but the human brain’s complexity allows us to do much more beyond mere survival.

Ever see someone, but you can’t recall their name? Recognizing a face is important to social creatures. Each face is different each time we see them. The time, the angle, lighting and shadows, expressions, clothing, and context. Who are they? I know them from somewhere, but where? Where did I meet them? The brain goes through that mental catalog to come up with a name every time we encounter someone. Then again, maybe the one we saw was a doppelganger.

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The brain is our center for learning – and think about the importance of being a life-long learner. In today’s world, that is more important than ever! Each of us uses a variety of learning styles – visual, auditory, kinesthetic, or logical. All of them are important in different ways, but each of us has a preferred learning style.

Left-brain/right-brain are popular notions. The left is the center of reason and analytics – the right for the visual, spatial, and artistic. We use both sides more than just the left hemisphere controlling the muscles on the body’s right side – and vice versa.

The brain – the center of consciousness – but what is consciousness? Is it the complex interaction within the brain and with other body parts? Maybe consciousness is the concept of the brain’s interplay with our heart. Would that mean a mental heart? Possibly a collective soul? Consciousness – something that we don’t know much about – yet some study it.

Are consciousness and the mind the same? Is humanity linked together by consciousness? Are all living things linked together by some form of consciousness? The mere thought of thinking about this makes my brain hurt – but that is just an expression.

The brain is where we interpret pain, yet the brain itself cannot feel pain – but somehow a person can feel phantom pain in a missing limb.

The brain is the place we associate with headaches, seizures, tremors, strokes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and epilepsy.

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The brain allows us to think about questions that we cannot answer such as; Who are we? Why are we here? How did creation occur? Is there life after death?

I look at the water and think about life in the sea. Jellyfish without a brain, but with an organized collection of nerves to control feeding and detect their environment to bring about a response. An octopus with one main brain, plus eight mini-brains – one for each arm.

Fish brains are an advancement, but far from the brains of the dolphins I occasionally see. The brains of birds in the air may be small, but they are much more complex than fish brains. Relative to their body size, bird brains are large.

As I look across the water across the sea, I wonder: Is our brain wider than the sky and deeper than the water of the sea?

The brain is each of us, yet individuals know very little about it. Maybe someone learned something from these neurological musings as I walk. After all, I like walking on the beach. It is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

See what other bloggers have written about the brain

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91 thoughts on “79 – Brain”

  1. First to comment! I loved seeing and hearing your stretch of beach Frank, so nice to have that addition to your beach walks. Now we can imagine your landscape as you walk.

    Have you ever read ‘the man who mistook his wife for a hat,’ by Oliver Sacks? It’s such an intriguing book, it tells some very very interesting (true) stories of very unique difficulties caused by damage to different brain structures.

    I agree, the brain is so so fascinating,. I love this:
    “As I look across the water across the sea, I wonder: Is our brain wider than the sky and deeper than the water of the sea?” I wonder too.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Rachel,
      Glad you enjoy having beach sounds available. I had that idea for some time, but shortly before opening here last mid-October, I got the YouTube idea. Right now, I rotated five different ones. Some people like having them in the background, and I imagine others don’t.

      Meanwhile, glad you enjoyed this stroll about the human brain. This is one where my biology side comes out. There is no question in my mind is that it is one complex body organ – so i think that fits your favorite line. 🙂 Thanks for sharing & for the book tip (which I have not read).

      Like

  2. I’m always wondering Frank… about my ‘Brain’ … after all these years of being upside down, here in downunder Geelong … maybe it’s good for us, to be hanging around upside down here .. . the air is clear and the beaches are clean …. and last just last week, my Doctor said my blood pressure .. was ‘hanging around’ at the bottom side of good …. .. Well it’s nearly 5.30pm Frank, and I’m heading out to a poetry open mic’ night … It’ll be lots of fun … catch you next week Frank …

    Liked by 4 people

      1. I have the same issue. I try not to teach but it happens. I don’t think it should be considered a bad thing. Many people could do with a little educating 😂
        Happy that you thought of my post to use as a reference. Thanks again.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. The brain is a wonderful topic, Frank. The physical brain, but the mind and thinking more intangible.
    Your mention of brains and hearts made me think of my friend who has an artificial heart. She has no heartbeat! How wild is that? !

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Merril,
      Glad you enjoyed this. Although some people use the terms interchangeably, the difference between the brain and mind is a fine line. To others, one is about physicality but the other about functionality. Others look at the brain as referring to parts and functions, but the mind a blend of brain activity, emotions, thought processes, and more. OMG …. you know someone with an artificial heart? Wow … and no heartbeat? Hmmmm … Does she have a pulse?

      Like

  4. The complexities of the brain are phenomenal, Frank. And within that, the realms of the imagination… but, is the imagination held within our brain, or within our soul? Just thinking about it hurts my brain! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Tom,
      It’s hard to imagine a more complex body part than the brain … and to think so much of what we know today has been found in the past 30 years. You mentioned imagination, and the previous beach walk was about creativity – bingo! – both are centered in the human brain. Glad this walk got your thinking. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. That was brilliant Frank! I never thought of it. Our brain is the source of our individuality. We are our brains. That is a numbing thought. Of all the parts that make me, me, my mind is the one I cherish most. It moves me in ways I can’t even imagine and I simply follow its lead.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Pam,
      I consider getting you to think about something is high praise because I know you are a thinking. Yes, the brain is the source of our individuality – actions, thoughts, creativity, behaviors, imagination, problem-solving, communication, and more are all because of the brain. The brain not only goes well with the previous beach walk about creativity, it fits so well with your daily quips. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. For years we have been purposely exercising our bodies; now we know it is just as important to exercise the brain. Never stop learning to keep those synapses snapping. . .

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dale,
      Absolutely … cheers to life-long learners. Keeping the brain active is also important for the elderly. Whether crosswords, a variety of word games, crosswords, and more – keep those synapses a snappin’. Hmmmm …. I wonder if that should be on a t-shirt?

      Liked by 2 people

  7. In one of the Oz books, there is a leader who has a room full of heads with different brains. Each morning the leader has to decide which head to wear, and each head has a different personality. Some were easy going; some were fiery and temperamental. Dorothy had to keep a sharp eye out to assess which head the leader was wearing. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Great discussion on the brain, Frank. I love how a walk can literally make us think about a particular subject and spur more research on it. I enjoyed reading your thoughts and facts even though my coffee has not quite kicked in yet!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Terri,
      Glad I was able to stimulate some thought during your morning coffee. Keep in mind that I taught biology and related topics for many years – so when I think, I hope my memory brings out sensible and relatable tidbits. Sometimes, I must walk several times to get enough coherent thoughts for a post. After all, sometimes the thoughts come together quickly, and other times not.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. We can have similar hairstyles, clothes, reading habits, sleeping habits, eating habits – but no two brains are alike. That’s pretty cool to think about – we are all unique if for no other reason than we have totally different thoughts and feelings and see things in a unique way. Makes me feel special. Seriously – this is a wonderful post and it got me thinking (in my own unique way of course).

    Pam

    Liked by 2 people

  10. As we age, it’s important to keep the brain working. I’ve been studying French (and now Norwegian) on Duolingo and I also like to do crosswords puzzles and jigsaw puzzles, all of which are good for the brain. Thinking about making a comment on every blog post I read helps, too. 🙂

    janet

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Like you Frank, my brain hurts just thinking about all this.
    This is a well researched and intelligent post on the subject matter ( grey and white).
    As your feet are refreshed in every beach walk, I suggest that you have brains in your feet! 😉🙃

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Resa,
      Glad you enjoyed this and that your brain is hurting from thinking about this stuff. Researched? Very little – reminder – I’m a biology major with teaching experience. Meanwhile, it is interesting to compare the brain activities when I walk. Sometimes they come to me … flow like water …. other times thoughts get stuck in the shallow end …. then later they go deeper.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Considering our brain, with our brain is a little meta, Frank. Perhaps it’s a worthwhile exercise. Perhaps it will lead us beyond what our brain tells us are its limits. Food for thought, eh?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dan,
      I enjoyed your look at the brain …. that is, from the point of view of a computer systems person. Then again, that a world of its own that very few of us understand. The hardest topic I worked in in training development was developing a course for system administrators about vulnerabilities. It was like trying to teach Chinese without knowing Chinese.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Thinking is such a powerful capacity one way or the other – it can bring most amazing creations to reality and it literally destroy our peace of mind and therefore any capacity to create positively. Your post is rich with so much knowledge.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. PD,
      Thank you for your kind words. Thinking is so powerful, and to me, this walk pairs very well with the previous walk on creativity. In terms of this being informational, sometimes the teacher in me comes out – but it is important that I beware aware of myself when doing that.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Cincy

    I had no idea the brain was THAT busy all the time. I mean, that it needs twenty-five percent of our total calories to function? I’m glad I have sharply cut back on my fast food consumption . . .

    As for not remembering the stuff I need to remember and remembering the stuff I really, really want to forget? The brain has a really sick sense of humor is all I can say. And I don’t mean that sarcastically, since I still haven’t mastered the stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Preserving brain health and function seems to be an increasingly important awareness as we age, I think. We all know people who have battled dementia or Alzheimer’s and I’m interested in research and what neurologists have to say about anything we can do to hold onto our sharp thinking for as long as possible. I do think that walking on the beach is an excellent way to reduce stress, and that’s a boost to brain health! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Debra,
      As we age, we become more in-tune with battles involving dementia or Alzheimer’s because it’s happening to people we know – people in our circle – people even younger than you and I. Then again, we know people in their 90s who are quite sharp! Keeping the brain active has got to help, but I don’t think that comes with a guarantee.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Your post is setting the mood for our camping trip at Long Beach, West Coast of Vancouver Island, Frank. Lots of time for reflecting and walking. You share a thought-provoking post about our brain. A great point on the variety of learning styles. You pose great questions, Frank, and as you have likely learned, asking the right questions is often a key when learning new material. I did not know about the octopus and the mini brains. And, yes, I wholeheartedly agree how walking on the beach “it is good for the mind, body, and soul…”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Erica,
      Thanks for your kind words. The brain is a fascinating subject – and its complexity is remarkable. Personalities, learning, problem-solving, emotions, speech, and much more are formulated there. Simply wow. Cheers to you being able to have a getaway to Vancouver Island. Enjoy!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Interesting as always, Frank. My husband, a neuroscientist, often remarks on how little is really known about the brain. That’s true of the human body (and human life) in general, I think. My brain seems to be missing the mental catalog for names and faces. Unless I’ve met a person several times in a short period, I usually don’t remember names or faces.

    Thank you for another beach walk. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Robin,
      I didn’t know that M is a neuroscientist. Awesome! Thanks for sharing. To me, context plays a role in remembering names and faces. See them in context, no problem – see them at the grocery store or airport, it’s where do I know that person. Thanks for sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Sometimes we think so hard our brains hurt – smiling but it’s so true! Reading all the facts you lay out about the brain only confirms, to me, that our brain is made up of so much more than…just brain. That we ARE connected with a larger consciousness, because how on Earth (or out of Earth) could all of this brain “matter” be produced? I’m a big thinker (as in I think too much) but the only time my brain actually DID hurt was when I got a concussion. I gained such a larger perspective of what our brain does for us, because with just one big whack on the back of my head, I had a recurring headache, ears ringing, lack of balance, loss of focus/ eye sight, loss of smell and appetite (and more, but I won’t list it all). Our brain is connected to other important parts of us – like the heart. When someone says a word that is nasty or false, I literally feel my heart twist. From brain to heart. From heart to brain. Walking along the ocean, though, that soothes my brain AND my heart. Thanks, Frank!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Pam,
      Cheers from one thinker to another. Yep – sometimes I think too much. The brain is a fascinating body part and I’m convinced its complexity is what separates us from the rest of the living world. Then again, that same complexity leads to many issues. Thanks for sharing a bit of your concussion history. Reminds me of the beating the brain takes from contact sports.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Such an interesting post again, Frank. I also enjoyed reading the comments. The brain is indeed a marvelous and necessary part of the body. So much of our well-being depends on the brain remaining healthy. I tell myself that as long as I can continue playing the piano, my brain must be in good working order. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Frank: I am so glad I found you. As always, you make me think, ponder, appreciate, wonder. And the calming from your ocean photo and video is wondrous. Thanks. Looking forward to your upcoming posts.

    Like

    1. Patti!!!!
      So glad you found me …. and welcome to the beach. This was walk #79, so there are plenty available to read. 😉 … and the last one was #86. Go to the Topic List page because most of the past ones are linked. (although I’m behind with the linking). I hope all is well with you in California.

      Like

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