Our brain may be small (in fact, it weighs no more than 3 pounds) but it’s the single most complex organ in the human body. It’s responsible for most of the things that make us human, including thought, memory, intelligence, can emotions. Maybe that’s why this tiny organ takes 20% of all the oxygen our body produces!
Indeed, the human brain and mind are astounding things. Here, we’re going to talk about some of the basic functions of your mind so that you better understand why human beings do the things that we do.
Read on for some surprising facts on how the mind works!
1. Sleep Affects Memory…
You’ve probably noticed that you’re groggy, unmotivated, and disengaged from the world as a whole if you don’t get a good night’s sleep the previous night.
But did you know that this sleep deprivation is also a likely culprit for your forgetful nature?
Getting enough sleep is necessary to consolidate memory and make it stay in the mind. If you haven’t gotten enough sleep, you’re much less likely to be able to call these memories to the forefront of your mind later.
Lack of sleep is one of the most common reasons that we forget things, from the location of car keys to important events like anniversaries. You’re also less likely to process things that you’re told when you’re sleep-deprived, meaning that you won’t remember to do something that another person asks you to, either.
2. …And It Affects Creativity
While a lack of sleep is sure to make you more forgetful, however, it’s going to positively affect your creativity. While some believe that not sleeping stifles creativity by not allowing your brain to function at full capacity, studies show that a lack of sleep opens different channels in your brain that a well-rested brain keeps closed.
These channels give you the mental capacity to come up with creative ideas. You’ll write amazing poetry and stories, draw captivating pictures, and write gorgeous music that you wouldn’t be able to with a well-rested brain.
This happens because you’ll be thinking in entirely different ways than you would be after a good night’s sleep!
3. Brains Can’t Multi-Task
If you find it difficult to do multiple things at once, you’ve likely been told that you need to learn how and just put up with the difficulty. Well, we have good news for you- this isn’t the case at all. The human brain is actually wired to be unable to multitask!
Studies show that when we attempt to multitask, the error rate of brain functions is 50% greater than it otherwise would be. It also takes over two times as long to complete simple tasks as you would if you focused on one and moved along to the next afterward.
This is because multitasking splits the resources that our brain uses to operate. The brain can’t do both tasks at once but is instead forced to switch back and forth really quickly and painfully.
4. We Need Our Emotions
We need our emotions for a lot of reasons. Some, like fear, are simple fight-or-flight responses intended to keep us alive. However, all animals have these responses- why do humans have more complex emotions?
So much of the way we feel emotion is tied into your physiology! Consider romantic love, for example: so much of the feeling of having a crush boils down to the reddening of your cheeks, the sweating of your palms, and an erratic heartbeat. Sadness follows a similar principle: without the ability to cry and feel knots in your stomach, it would be a very different sensation.
While you likely think of your emotions as part of yourself as a spiritual entity, they actually are caused by synapses firing in your brain. The brain processes stimuli and sends them into the body. This creates bodily sensations associated with a given emotion- heart rate increase or decrease, sweat, laughter, and other things.
5. It Can Be Analyzed Scientifically
One thing that may or may not surprise you about the human mind is that scientists are always working to better learn what makes us tick. There are a huge number of different ways this can take place. Clinical trials on consenting human beings are one way we can do this, but we can also learn about our minds by experimenting on lab animals.
One of the coolest ways that brains can be analyzed is by using wireless optogenetics, which refers to analyzing the way that the brains of lab rats and other small animals respond to stimuli.
While this obviously can’t be done on humans for ethical reasons, other animals have similar anatomy to us. We can generalize the responses that these animal brains have and use prior scientific knowledge of the human mind to glean greater insight on how the same stimuli affect people.
More Surprising Facts About the Human Mind
There’s no hiding it: the human mind is an amazing thing. While you may take the fact that you can process thoughts and memorize topics for granted, your brain (and the synapses controlling it) are always hard at work to allow you to have these brain functions.
Now that you know some of the most interesting and surprising facts about how your mind works, it’s time to do things that make you happy and trigger positive electrical reactions within your mind.
If you liked this article, be sure to check out some of our others and come back often for new content.