YOUR MOST VALUABLE MUSCLE
The brain is a fascinating organ. But it is also your most valuable muscle. For something that weighs about 1.5 kg with a consistency similar to firm tofu, it remarkably contains several thousand miles of interconnected nerve cells which makes it possible for you to function they way you are – from before the time you first opened your eyes at birth up to your moment of death.
The human brain is the center of the human nervous system and is a highly complex organ. It has been estimated to contain 50–100 billion (1011) neurons, of which about 10 billion (1010) are cortical pyramidal cells or primary excitation units which have numerous voltage-gated ion channels. These type of cells pass signals to each other via as many as 1000 trillion (1015) synaptic connections.
The organ that resides inside the top part of your head is associated with, among many other things, executive functions such as self-control, planning, reasoning, abstract thought, vision, behaviour, and ambulatory motor skills. It is what makes you conscious of yourself and your surroundings. It is the fountain-head of your creativity, brilliance or ignorance – whichever you so choose it to be.
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PROTECTED BUT VULNERABLE
In spite of the fact that your brain is protected by the thick bones of the skull, suspended in cerebrospinal fluid, and isolated from the bloodstream by a blood-brain barrier, the delicate nature of the human brain still makes it susceptible to many types of damage and disease.
The most common forms of physical damage are closed head injuries such as a blow to the head, falling off from heights head first, a stroke, or poisoning by a wide variety of chemicals that can act as neurotoxins. Infection of the brain, however, is rare because of the barriers that protect it. But it can become very serious if it ever occurs.
The human brain is also susceptible to degenerative disorders, such as Park-inson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. A number of psychiatric conditions, such as schizophrenia and depression, are also widely thought to be caused, at least partially, by brain dysfunctions although the nature of such brain anomalies is not yet so well understood even up to this day.