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Discovery Magazine 1/1/1994

Bravo for the Brain

 You see a leaf—and you think of a tree. You hear "meow"—and you think of a cat. You smell chocolate—and you think of a candy bar. You touch an ice cube—and you think of a freezer. You taste cinnamon—and you think of home-made cinnamon rolls.

Where do all these thoughts of trees, cats, candy bars, and cinnamon rolls come from? They are memories that are stored in your brain. There is plenty of room in there for lots more memories! Scientists tell us that the brain can hold as much information as 500 sets of encyclopedias!

How big is your brain? When you were a baby, your brain weighed less than a pound. By the time you were six years old, your brain reached its full weight—almost 3 pounds.

Thoughts and memories travel through your brain's cells as slow as 3 miles an hour and as fast as 300 miles per hour. Yet, for all its amazing work, the brain produces only about 20 watts of electricity—not even enough to power an average light bulb!

Brains are divided into two halves (called hemispheres). As strange as it may sound, the right side of your brain controls the left side of your body. The left side controls your right side! Scientists think that the hemispheres also perform different tasks. Things like the ability to recognize words and remember names are controlled by the left hemisphere. Emotions, the ability to sing, and to judge distance are the kinds of things controlled by the right hemisphere.

The brain produces more than 50 drugs and dispenses them as needed. In a sense, your brain contains its own doctor and pharmacist. When needed, "Dr. Brain" prescribes the right medicine and dispenses it. Here are a few examples: endorphin (en-DORF-in) is a powerful pain killer; serotonin (sare-a-TOE-nin) affects our moods (like depression); dopamine (DOPE-a-mean) can make you excited and talkative.

The brain is the most orderly and complex arrangement of matter in the entire Universe. Could this order and complexity have just evolved by accident? No! When we—with our brains—think about the brain, we see more and more of God's great wisdom and power!



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