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What percentage of our brain do we use?

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The brain is the most complex organ in the human body. Many believe that a person only ever uses 10 percent of their brain. Is there any truth to this?

A person’s brain determines how they experience the world around them. The brain weighs about 3 pounds and contains around 100 billion neurons — cells that carry information.

In this article, we explore how much of the brain a person uses. We also bust some widely held myths and reveal some interesting facts about the brain.

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According to a survey from 2013, around 65 percent of Americans believe that we only use 10 percent of our brain.

But this is just a myth, according to an interview with neurologist Barry Gordon in Scientific American. He explained that the majority of the brain is almost always active.

The 10 percent myth was also debunked in a study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

One common brain imaging technique, called functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), can measure activity in the brain while a person is performing different tasks.

Using this and similar methods, researchers show that most of our brain is in use most of the time, even when a person is performing a very simple action.

A lot of the brain is even active when a person is resting or sleeping.

The percentage of the brain in use at any given time varies from person to person. It also depends on what a person is doing or thinking about.

It’s not clear how this myth began, but there are several possible sources.

In an article published in a 1907 edition of the journal Science, psychologist and author William James argued that humans only use part of their mental resources. However, he did not specify a percentage.

The figure was referenced in Dale Carnegie’s 1936 book How to Win Friends and Influence People. The myth was described as something the author’s college professor used to say.

There is also a belief among scientists that neurons make up around 10 percent of the brain’s cells. This may have contributed to the 10 percent myth.

The myth has been repeated in articles, TV programs, and films, which helps to explain why it is so widely believed.

Like any other organ, the brain is affected by a person’s lifestyle, diet, and the amount that they exercise.

To improve the health and function of the brain, a person can do the following things.

Eating well improves overall health and well-being. It also reduces the risk of developing health issues that may lead to dementia, including:

  • cardiovascular disease

  • midlife obesity

  • type 2 diabetes

The following foods promote brain health:

  • Fruits and vegetables with dark skins. Some are rich in vitamin E, such as spinach, broccoli, and blueberries. Others are rich in beta carotene, including red peppers and sweet potatoes. Vitamin E and beta carotene promote brain health.

  • Oily fish. These types of fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may support cognitive function.

  • Walnuts and pecans. They are rich in antioxidants, which promote brain health.

  • Regular exercise also reduces the risk of health problems that may lead to dementia.

    Cardiovascular activities, such as walking briskly for 30 minutes a day, can be enough to reduce the risk of brain function declining.

    Other accessible and inexpensive options include:

    • bike riding

    • jogging

    • swimming

      The more a person uses their brain, the better their mental functions become. For this reason, brain training exercises are a good way to maintain overall brain health.

      A recent study conducted over 10 years found that people who used brain training exercises reduced the risk of dementia by 29 percent.

      The most effective training focused on increasing the brain’s speed and ability to process complex information quickly.

       There are a number of other popular myths about the brain. These are discussed and dispelled below.

    • Many believe that a person is either left-brained or right-brained, with right-brained people being more creative, and left-brained people more logical.

      However, research suggests that this is a myth — people are not dominated by one brain hemisphere or the other. A healthy person is constantly using both hemispheres.

      It is true that the hemispheres have different tasks. For instance, a study in PLOS Biologydiscussed the extent to which the left hemisphere is involved in processing language, and the right in processing emotions.

      Long-term alcoholism can lead to a number of health problems, including brain damage.

      It is not, however, as simple as saying that drinking alcohol kills brain cells — this is a myth. The reasons for this are complicated.

      If a woman drinks too much alcohol while pregnant, it can affect the brain development of the fetus, and even cause fetal alcohol syndrome.

      The brains of babies with this condition may be smaller and often contain fewer brain cells. This may lead to difficulties with learning and behavior.

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Health & Lifestyle

Impact of Chronic Noise on Heart Health

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Exposure to a high level of noise on a regular basis can wreak havoc on the cardiovascular system, according to new research.



The leader of the study was Dr. Azar Radfar, Ph.D., a research fellow at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. The findings will be presented at Scientific Sessions 2018, held by the American Heart Association (AHA) in Chicago, IL.

Dr. Radfar’s team found that noise exposure causes an elevated stress response in the human brain.

This can lead to inflammation in the blood vessels, which can cause serious health problems, including a heart attack or stroke.

The research included 499 participants, who were free from cardiovascular disease and cancer at the study’s start.

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Noise and cardiovascular events

The participants underwent positron emission tomography (PET) and CT scans of their brains and blood vessels. The researchers also looked at the activity of the amygdala, a region of the brain that regulates stress and emotional response.

The team estimated participants’ regular exposure to noise by comparing their home addresses with data from the United States Department of Transportation’s National Transportation Noise Map, which includes information about levels of roadway and aviation noise.

 



Years later, the researchers examined the participants’ medical records for evidence of cardiovascular events. Of the 499 original participants, 40 had experienced a heart attack or stroke in the 5 years that followed the initial testing.

After analyzing the data, the team discovered that participants with the highest levels of noise exposure also had the most noticeable stress-related brain activity. In addition, they had more inflammation in their arteries.

Increased blood vessel inflammation is a well-established risk factor for heart disease, so finding a link between this inflammation and cardiovascular events was no surprise.

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However, participants with the most stress-related brain activity were more than three times as likely to experience a major cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke.

Even after accounting for other risk factors, such as air pollution, smoking, and diabetes, the team concluded that participants exposed to higher levels of noise pollution had an increased risk of cardiovascular events.

What are the next steps?

Determining whether decreasing noise exposure can reduce the risk of heart disease will require further research. The study’s authors urge doctors to consider high noise levels as an independent risk factor for cardiovascular events.

While simply moving away from an area with noise pollution is usually not an option, the authors urge their readers to consider ways to decrease high levels of ambient noise.

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Health & Lifestyle

Experiment shows social media use increases depression and anxiety

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After the three weeks were up, the students were surveyed again using the same tools to measure their well-being. These tools measured outcomes like depression, loneliness, anxiety, and that most millennial of worries, fear of missing out. The group of students who limited their social media usage showed significant decreases in anxiety and fear of missing out from the start of the experiment. In particular, people who had higher levels of depression at the start of the study showed a decrease in depressive symptoms when they limited their social media time. One subject described the experience personally: “Not comparing my life to the lives of others had a much stronger impact than I expected, and I felt a lot more positive about myself during those weeks.”

While plenty have studies have looked at well-being and internet use and found that, for example, anxious people tend to have a problematic approach to internet use or that depression can be identified through social media use, this is the first study to confirm this link experimentally. It shows that it is not merely the case that depressed, anxious, or unhappy people happen to use social media more often, but rather that the act of using the sites decreases well-being. The researchers recommend limiting social media use to 30 minutes per day to improve your mood and mental health.

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