Your Amazing Brain – Dr Shari Walsh
Your brain is an amazing organ. It weighs just over a kilo (approx. 1.3kg’s) and is the control centre of the body. It is like a powerful computer that monitors our functioning, protects us from harm, and manages how we think, feel, and behave.
Although the brain represents less than 2% of average body weight, it uses 20-25% of the oxygen, blood and energy in the body. Hence ensuring good blood flow and oxygenation is vital to good brain functioning. If you are tired, your brain gets you to yawn increasing oxygen flow to the brain and waking it up. 60% of the brain is fat and it is believed that severe dieting, in which fat is restricted, may impact on brain development and functioning. Eating a healthy balanced diet, including good fats, can help keep your brain in good working order.
The brain produces electrical currents when it is processing with around about 100,000 chemical reactions per second. It can send information between different parts of the brain at speeds of up to 420 kilometres per hour! The electrical currents produced each day by the brain are enough to power a small light bulb. So you literally do have light bulb moments!
The brain is constantly changing as new brain connections are created every time you form a new memory, learn new information or have new experience. The brain regularly deletes unnecessary information from conscious memory so that you able to incorporate new information keeping it up to date with your life. Alcohol decreases the brain’s ability to form memories which is why some people experience ‘blackouts’ during binge drinking.
The brain responds to environmental stimuli. Just smelling chocolate can produce theta brain waves triggering a relaxation response. Music affects the same part of the brain that produces dopamine, the chemical linked to feelings of pleasure. Looking at photos of loved ones or cuddling a baby or pet can produce oxytocin, the chemical related to feeling affection and love. You can use positive stimuli to assist your brain to feel happy.
There are a number of things you can do to help your brain function at its best. Regular exercise that gets your heart thumping, eating a healthy diet, and deep breathing throughout the day will help keep your brain in the best possible physical working condition. Learning to appreciate positives in your life, participating in a variety of enjoyable activities and developing strategies to manage negative emotions will assist your brain to be in the best possible psychological condition.
Psychologists are trained to helping you understand your brain and to develop skills and strategies to make the most of your amazing brain!
Dr Shari Walsh