The human brain is like a supercomputer; it informs everything about your consciousness, from your personality to your emotions. Scientists and philosophers have been studying the human mind for centuries. There is still a lot to learn about the complex mass of cells and fibres in your head. Here are 10 curious facts about your mind:
1. Your brain is a machine, consisting of billions of cells called neurons that communicate with each other via neural pathways. These enable you to make decisions and perform actions.
2. Neuroplasticity describes the unique ability of the brain to change and grow continually throughout a person’s life. Every time you learn something new, your brain’s neural pathways change.
3. How you think about things also changes your brain. If you tend to worry a lot, the ‘worry’ pathways grow stronger and become easier to trigger. Alternatively, it’s possible to train your brain to think more positively and develop certain habits.
4. The amygdala, located in the centre of the brain, is also known as the ‘fear centre’. The more you experience long bouts of stress or worry, the larger it becomes. Consequently, other areas, such as the frontal lobe, where attention, memory and planning occur, get smaller.
5. You’re hardwired to be negative in order to protect yourself. Your brain has an inbuilt ‘negativity bias’ that enables you to detect and avoid danger.
6. As a result of the ‘negativity bias’, you’re more likely to be critical, as well as be on the watch for dangerous events more often than positive ones.
7. Smiling can make you happier. The body and mind connect and influence how you feel. For instance, intentionally smiling will send a signal to your brain that you’re happy. Your brain chemicals then adjust accordingly.
8. Being sad literally narrows your focus. When you’re upset, your visual field narrows and you’re less likely to see the big picture. Additionally, when you’re happy, you’re more alert to visual detail, so positive emotions actually open your mind!
9. You adjust to happiness quickly. The mind, while resistant to some change, actually adapts to positive emotions fast. Soon after an exciting life event – such as having holiday or buying a new car – your brain tends to adjust its baseline of happiness to seek more happiness. Psychologists call his ‘hedonic adaptation’.
10. Love is actually painful. The brain processes having your heart broken or being mistreated socially the same way as it processes physical pain. This means that social and emotional health are just as important as physical health.
Do you know any other curious facts about the mind?