The three pounds of mass we carry over our shoulders define who we are. No other species´ brain is developed to an extent like ours. At the same time, there is no other organ surrounded by as many myths.
Have you heard statements like these? The male brain is larger than the female brain. A strong mental effort trains our gray matter.
But which statement is true and which is nothing more than a myth? After we checked on the veracity of 4 myths a while ago we will be looking at 4 more today.
Myth 5 – Our brain consists of gray matter
That is half true. From the youngest age on we learn that academic study and mental effort trains our gray matter. That gives us the impression that a huge gray mass is stored under our skullcap. Our brain consists of approximately 100 billion nerve cells (neurons). They define the complexion of the brain.
There are different kinds of neurons and neurons consist of different parts. Simplified you could say that the gray cells are those cells that mainly consist of one cell body.
A large part of the white cells, on the other hand, comprises of axons. Axons are long projections of a nerve cell and responsible for the transduction of information from cell to cell. The axon is enclosed in a fatty myelin layer. This myelin layer appears white on the first look.
But are the gray cells really gray? Brain cells look gray when they are conserved in formalin. In the living brain those cells are actually pink (rose). It would be correct to say: Training the pink cells. When they´re gray – you´re dead.
That gives the marketing slogan “think pink” a new meaning, right?
Myth 6 – People cannot tickle themselves
Did you ever notice that even if you feel like you are the most ticklish person in the world you cannot tickle yourself?
But why can other people tickle you and you are immune to your own tickle efforts? The reason is that your own tickle efforts are completely predictable.
Even if you know that someone is about to tickle you and even if you know where: There is still an unpredictable portion. You don´t know when and exactly where the other person is going to tickle you. And in which intensity the attack will happen.
The cerebellum is aware of your movements at any time and that is why you cannot tickle yourself.
You could try though to outsmart your brain and tickle yourself. I would think you will not have much more success than when trying to lick your own elbow. But I live to learn.
Myth 7: Headaches start in the brain
There are different types of headaches and all have one thing in common: Pain. But what exactly hurts? Our body senses pain through pain receptors. Those pain receptors transport the information into the brain, where the evaluation of the pain happens.
Accordingly, it is pain receptors that sense the pain. There are no pain receptors in the brain. The brain is immune to pain.
Pain does not form in the brain but around it. In example through irritation of the meninx.
Myth 8: The male brain is bigger and more efficient
That´s like saying that men are better dancers because they have bigger feet, right?
It is true that the male brain is on average 10 % larger. That is corresponding to the general difference in height.
The performance of the brain is only depending to a very limited extent on the size of the brain.
Albert Einstein for one – and I trust we can all agree he was none of the dumb kids – had a rather small brain.