How Does the Brain Affect Our Lives? (Part 2)

 

By Maggie Dail, MA, Learning Specialist

Braverman’s introduction to how the brain works continues:

The Electrochemical Brain – “Each cell on the neuronal highway is programmed to produce, send and receive a specific chemical, whose job is to activate brain cells to fire messages at each other by moving to various receptor sites with the brain’s synapses.” p 5

Braverman explains the four major chemical systems in this first chapter. Then, he talks of the Anatomy of the Brain (p. 8-12):

  1. Cerebrum – made up of lobes:
  • Frontal Lobes – personality, emotions, problem solving, reasoning, motor
  • Parietal Lobes – sensory, sound, smell, taste, visiospatial processing
  • Temporal Lobes – story memory and language, speech, hearing
  • Occipital Lobes – vision
  1. Corpus Callosum – “The corpus callosum is like the Internet of the brain: It’s the place where every brain cell has to connect so that the brain can work as a whole. This band of neuronal fibers is the electrical network between the right and left hemispheres, allowing the two sides of the brain to coordinate their tasks.”
  2. The Brain Stem – the place where electricity connects the brain and the body.
  3. The Cerebellum – balance and coordinated movements (legs and arms)
  4. Cerebrospinal Fluid – “A healthy brain and spinal cord float in and drink from cerebrospinal fluid – what I call the ocean of life.” p. 12

 

Brain Image from Younger Brains...

Even for those of us who have studied the brain’s anatomy before, review impacts our understanding.

 

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How Does the Brain Affect Our Lives? (Part 1)

By Maggie Dail, MA, Learning Specialist

 

As a part of my ongoing journey to understand how our brain works and how we learn, I began reading Younger Brain, Sharper Mind by Eric P. Braverman, MD during a quick get-away / Spring Break.

 

In the introduction, Braverman explains the problem behind our “senior moments” – it’s biology.  However, he gives hope that it does not have to be this way. xii – xiv

 

“Neurogenesis is the answer….Neurogenesis teaches us that we can repair, recover or even improve the aging brain.”  xiv – xv

 

“Cognitive energy = voltage (number of neurons) x processing speed (the speed at which they’re fired) xvi

 

  • Part 1 – Explains how the brain works.

 

  • Part 2 – Explains the “6-Step Plan”

 

  • Part 3 – “Your Brain, Your Body”

 

In addition to his own research, Braverman uses extensive other sources listed in the References section at the end.

 

  • (Part 1: A Balanced Brain —Chapter 1 – Brain Basics)

 

“The brain is the most remarkable organ in the body: It not only controls how you think, feel and perceive, it manages all aspects of your health.

 

Some say that the brain is like a supercomputer, but I imagine it more like the circuit box in your home.” p. 3

 

To further use the circuit box analogy:

 

Voltage – measures brain power and output

 

Speed – determines the speed of the processing

 

Balance – “The Balanced brain creates and receives electricity in a smooth rhythmic flow.” p. 4

 

Synchrony – “The brain’s electricity moves as waves.” (beta – 12-16 cycles – active; alpha – 8-12 cycles – creative; theta – 4-8 – drowsy; delta – 1-4 cycles – sleep) p. 5

 

“True synchrony occurs when all four brain waves are coordinated throughout the day and night. When these brain waves get out of sync at night, you will not experience restful sleep; during the day you’ll find that your mind is wandering and your concentration is affected.” p. 5

 

Certainly many of us of all ages experience times when our mind wanders and we lack concentration.  I look forward to continuing to read what Braverman has to say. Join me in this journey.