Health

The best exercises for brain health

(HealthDay)—There's a lot you can learn from your elders, starting with the results of a multi-year study of exercise and brain health in seniors.

Psychology & Psychiatry

Anxious people quicker to flee danger

Fear and anxiety are both responses to danger but differ in timing. Fear strikes when something is an imminent threat: a tiger jumps over a fence, lunging at you. Anxiety, on the other hand, occurs when you have a moment ...

Psychology & Psychiatry

Imagine: Our attitudes can change solely by the power of imagination

Sometimes in life there are special places that seem to stand out to us—a school playground, perhaps an old church, or that inconspicuous street corner where you were kissed for the first time. Before the kiss you had never ...

Neuroscience

Research looks to halt stress-induced seizures

For the over one million Canadians living with traumatic brain injury, the likelihood of developing epilepsy increases significantly because of their injury. When faced with stress or anxiety, that likelihood increases even ...

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Brain

The brain is the center of the nervous system in all vertebrate, and most invertebrate, animals. Some primitive animals such as jellyfish and starfish have a decentralized nervous system without a brain, while sponges lack any nervous system at all. In vertebrates, the brain is located in the head, protected by the skull and close to the primary sensory apparatus of vision, hearing, balance, taste, and smell.

Brains can be extremely complex. The cerebral cortex of the human brain contains roughly 15-33 billion neurons depending on gender and age, linked with up to 10,000 synaptic connections each. Each cubic millimeter of cerebral cortex contains roughly one billion synapses. These neurons communicate with one another by means of long protoplasmic fibers called axons, which carry trains of signal pulses called action potentials to distant parts of the brain or body and target them to specific recipient cells.

The most important biological function of the brain is to generate behaviors that promote the welfare of an animal. Brains control behavior either by activating muscles, or by causing secretion of chemicals such as hormones. Even single-celled organisms may be capable of extracting information from the environment and acting in response to it. Sponges, which lack a central nervous system, are capable of coordinated body contractions and even locomotion. In vertebrates, the spinal cord by itself contains neural circuitry capable of generating reflex responses as well as simple motor patterns such as swimming or walking. However, sophisticated control of behavior on the basis of complex sensory input requires the information-integrating capabilities of a centralized brain.

Despite rapid scientific progress, much about how brains work remains a mystery. The operations of individual neurons and synapses are now understood in considerable detail, but the way they cooperate in ensembles of thousands or millions has been very difficult to decipher. Methods of observation such as EEG recording and functional brain imaging tell us that brain operations are highly organized, but these methods do not have the resolution to reveal the activity of individual neurons.

This text uses material from Wikipedia, licensed under CC BY-SA