Welcome again everyone. A brand new week has now started, another Monday morning – everyone talks about the ‘Monday Morning Blues’ however I tend to love Mondays as it means a day to get out of the house to volunteer for a local charity.
If you have never volunteered before, I would highly recommend it, the satisfaction you get helping others is fantastic, and if like me you suffer with health problems, helping others is a great way to forget your own troubles for a couple of hours immersing yourself into doing something for someone else.
Anyway, back to the ’30 Days, 30 Posts Challenge’ – today is one of the ‘Health Activist Choice’ Days, meaning that we can write about anything we want. I have been here in front of my computer for a while trying to decide what to write, so I have decided to choose a topic which I personally find fascinating….
It is amazing that this muscle, weighing an average of 3 pounds defines who we are, what we are capable of. Without it, we wouldn’t even be able to survive, with the brain stem responsible for basic vital life functions such as breathing. Within the structure of the brain is where memories are stored, where our personalities are defined and so on.
However, it is also amazing that while our brain is responsible for us, well being us, there is still many things which are not fully understood by neuroscientists and doctors alike, even considering the advancement in medical science. In Rita Carter’s fascinating reference book, she writes “the brain is the last of the human organs to reveal its secrets” and also reveals why the brain is so complex and often misunderstood, “the brain is particularly difficult to investigate because its structures are minute and its processes cannot be seen with the naked eye.”
That isn’t to say medicine hasn’t made any advancements concerning the brain – as of course, it has. The development for example of imaging technology has made it possible for doctors and researchers to clearly view the different structures within the brain. And what’s more functional imaging reveals even more of the brain’s secrets – as it shows which areas of the brain are active, meaning that researchers are now able to identify which part of the brain are responsible for different functions such as movement, rational thinking and memory amongst others.
Even more fascinating is the mysteries of brain disorders and what can go wrong when a part of the brain is damaged. There are many disorders such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease and so on that are more easily recognised and much is known about what has gone wrong within the brain and central nervous system resulting in the specific disorder. However, there are a great many which are not known to the general knowledge, and which is even a mystery to the doctors. Take, for example ‘Alice in Wonderland Syndrome’, an extremely rare form of migraine which results sufferers to see their own bodies or those of others or even inanimate objects askew. Meaning that objects or body parts looking either bigger or smaller than they really are.
Another fascinating brain condition is something which I encountered during my time studying for my degree in Psychology. It is called the ‘Capgras Delusion’ in which a person exhibiting the syndrome believes that a close friend, spouse, parent or other close family member has been replaced by an identical looking imposter. Although there have been several theories to why this particular syndrome occurs, its exact cause still remains a mystery.
The fascination and interest in neuroscience and the brain may stem from my time reading about some areas of the subject as part of my studies at university. Or because of my own neurological condition – which also to some extent remains a mystery, such as how or why the brain stem lesion has occurred. Whether the reason I believe that the brain is still the most mysterious and interesting organs of the human body…
So, there you have it, some of the secrets and mysteries concerning the brain. Again, I hope you have enjoyed today’s post, please feel free to leave any comments you may have, or any questions, suggestions are also welcome.
The Brain Book by Rita Carter
The Brain that Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science by Norman Doidge
The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks
The Neurotourist: Postcards From The Edge of Brain Science by Lone Frank