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Reader's Digest: 30 Amazing Facts About Your Brain

The brain is one of the most astonishing and intricate parts of the human body, yet it only takes up a fraction of the space


The brain itself can't feel pain

Ever wonder how brain surgeons are able to perform surgeries on patients while they're awake? Beth McQuiston, MD, neurologist and medical director at Abbott, explains that even though the brain contains layers of coverings and blood vessels that contain pain receptors, the brain itself has zero. When a person has a headache, for example, it's often thought of as pain stemming from the brain, but this is actually not the case. The muscles and skin surrounding the brain, however, can feel pain. 


Almost half of a child's energy goes to fuel his brain

In order for the brain to stay running at top-notch, it requires significant amounts of energy. And this is even more true for young children who are still learning, processing, and developing at a fast rate. "Scientists at Northwestern University discovered recently that in the preschool years, when a child's brain development is faster, physical growth is slower, possibly to save more energy for the developing brain," explains Dr. Wingeier. "Conversely, during puberty, when physical growth is faster, brain development is slower—which may come as no surprise to parents of teenagers."



You actually do use most of your brain, most of the time

Though the film Limitless with Bradley Cooper lead people to think that they use only a tiny portion of their brain, this is actually not true. "This misconception came about because the brain is so adaptable that sometimes minor damage causes only subtle problems," explains Brett Wingeier, PhD, engineer, neuroscientist and co-founder of Halo Neuroscience. "The fact is, most of your brain is constantly working—to sense, process, think, move, and even dream." Even when you head to sleep at night, your brain is still hard at work!

The brain is not permanently arranged at birth

Nope—those nerve cells in your noggin continue to change based on how often they're used and stimulated in the first year of life. This is especially true for speech and language. "Some toddlers have to undergo extensive brain resections for medical reasons and these procedures may unfortunately mean removing the primary language center in the brain," explains Jennifer Bickel, MD, Pediatric Neurologist and Director of the Comprehensive Headache Clinic at Children's Mercy Kansas City. "If adults undergo a similar procedure, they are often unable to communicate through written or verbal language, however, young children's brain are so adaptable that it will reorganize itself and the ability to use language will be retained." It's this ongoing ability of the brain to adapt that is the reason for why young children require regular exposure to language.


Read more amazing brain facts via Reader's Digest.

Learn more about the comprehensive Headache Relief Clinic at Children's Mercy.

Learn more about the hospital's Division of Pediatric Neurology.