Mind and Brain Facts

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The Mind & Brain – Quick fire facts:
1. Your brain is 3 pounds of tofu-like tissue, containing 1.1 trillion cells, including 100 billion neurons.
On average, each neuron receives about five thousand connections, called synapses, from other
neurons (Linden 2007).
2. As its receiving synapses, a neuron gets signals – usually a burst of chemicals called
neurotransmitters – from other neurons. Signals tell a neuron whether to fire or not; whether it
fires depends mainly on the combination of signals it receives each moment. In turn, when a
neuron fires, it sends signals to other neurons through its transmitting synapses, telling them to fire
or not.
3. Your nervous system moves information around your body like your heart moves the blood, all that
information is what we define broadly as ‘the mind’, most of which is forever outside of your
awareness.
4. The brain is the primary mover and shaper of the mind. Even though it’s only 2% of the body’s
weight, it uses 20-25% of its oxygen and glucose (Lammert 2008) & uses about the same amount of
energy whether you’re deep asleep or thinking hard (Raichle and Gusnard 2002).
5. The number of possible combinations of 100 billion neurons firing or not is approximately 10 to the
millionth power, or 1 followed by a million zeros. In principle, this is the number of possible states
of your brain. To put this into perspective, the number of atoms in the entire universe is estimated
to be only about 10 to the eighth power.
6. Neurons can make lasting circuits; mental activity can result in these neurons strengthening their
connections to each other.
7. The mind and brain interact with each other so profoundly that they’re best understood as a single,
co-defendant, mind/brain system.
References:
Hanson, R., Mendius, R. and Siegel, D. 2009. Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom. [ebook] New Harbinger Publications. pp. 19-20. [Accessed: 11 Oct 2013].
Lammert, E. 2008. Brain wnts for blood vessels. Science 322:1195-1196.
Linden, D. J. 2007 The Accidental mind: How Brain Evolution has given us Love, Memory, Dreams and God. Cambridge, MA: The
Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Raichle, M., and D. Gusndard. 2002. Appraising the brains energy budget. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
99:10237-10239.
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