The brain looks a bit like a giant crinkled rubbery mushroom, with the average adult brain weighing about 3 lbs 5 oz (1.5 kg).
Your brain is the most sophisticated object in the known universe. Millions of messages are speeding through your nervous system at any given moment, enabling your brain to receive, process, and store information, and to send instructions all over the body. Your brain is capable of so much more than you might give it credit for. Just take a moment to consider all the things made by human beings.
From the earliest tool, such as a pickax, to the modern skyscraper, and from the largest dam to the smallest microchip—the human brain is where all of these objects were ﬁrst conceived. Undoubtedly, the brain is the most powerful tool at mankind’s disposal.
Your brain works around the clock. It generates more electrical impulses each day than all the mobile phones in the world. You have billions of tiny brain nerve cells interacting with each other in permutations that have been estimated to equal 1 with 800 zeros behind it. (To make that remotely graspable, the number of atoms in the world—one of the smallest material things we can get a ﬁx on— is estimated to be 1.33 with 48 zeros after it.)
Did you know?
Your brain runs on less power than your refrigerator light.
That’s about 12 watts of power. During the course of a day your brain uses the amount of energy contained in a small chocolate bar, around 230 calories. Even though these facts might make the brain sound efﬁcient, in relative terms, it is an energy hog.
Your brain accounts for merely 2 percent of the body’s weight, but consumes 20 percent of the body’s total energy. Your brain requires a tenth of a calorie per minute merely to survive. Your brain consumes energy at ten times the rate of the rest of the body per gram of tissue. The majority of this energy goes into maintenance of the brain.
So, if we have such a powerful brain, why aren’t we all good at everything? Why are some of us forgetful? Why do some of us have trouble reading maps? Why do some of us lack a sense of rhythm? Surely with all that “electrical” activity going on inside our heads, we shouldn’t be faced with these difﬁculties?
Think of the brain as a busy fairground with an assortment of rides and attractions, each representing a different area of the brain, and think of the people as the tiny nerve cells or “neurons”. Now, the popularity of the various attractions tends to differ from one fairground to another; a ride in one fairground may draw more people than the same ride in another. In brain terms, the “popular rides” are the parts of the brain with lots of “nerve cell” activity and, hence, tend to be more developed. This development is aided signiﬁcantly by the kind of education we receive as a child. One person can be proﬁcient when it comes to reading maps, another might be more creative, and a third, more logical.
Of course, this is a crude analogy because the different areas of the brain function together for most tasks and a speciﬁc area dominates, but it does illustrate how the brain differs from person to person.
In short, it’s a question of education and genetics.
So, don’t be too hard on yourself if you think you’re bad at math or terrible at languages. The chances are that you excel in another area. However, this doesn’t mean you cannot develop a mental ability that you consider weaker than another. It’s wrong to think that just because you’re not naturally gifted in something, such as math or map-reading, that there’s no point in trying to improve it.
Your brain is similar to any muscle in your body in that exercise will raise its potency. You can always strive to improve and expand your current mental aptitude.