How often do you think about your brain? I mean really think about your brain?
Between your ears you have one of the most complex systems known on our planet. Among its tremendous range of functions, it can make plans, feel emotions, conjure up images, recall events, recognise faces, enable communications and devise tools. To say nothing of the subconscious processes it controls, such as digestion, maintaining your body temperature, keeping you balanced as you walk upstairs and conveying food efficiently to your mouth. Oh and let us not forget its ability to store and retrieve the lyrics to those advertisements and theme tunes from your childhood that you haven’t thought about for over 20 years.
Impressive isn’t it?
Well, coming up this month we have a chance to really appreciate all that our brain does for us during Brain Awareness Week.
What is Brain Awareness Week?
I’m glad you asked that. Brain Awareness Week is a global campaign which began in 1996. It brings together diverse groups from academia, governments, research facilities, professional companies and healthcare organisations, all with one aim… to foster public enthusiasm and support for brain science.
Having recently completed my MSc in Applied Neuroscience, I know just how far our knowledge of the brain has come. Unlike many other parts of our bodies, this elusive organ reveals nothing just by looking at it. Due to major advances in technology, it is now slowly giving up some of its deepest secrets. But there is always more to do.
The Future of Brain Science
We want to be able to maintain good brain health for longer and prevent devastating conditions like Motor Neuron Disease, dementia or Alzheimer’s.
We want to understand more about neuroplasticity and neurodiversity, and discover how our brains are the ultimate example of machine learning.
We want to know what happens when we fall in love, or grieve, or get an earworm, or our team wins, or we go for a walk out in nature.
Brain science is progressing at a fantastically fast rate, but it still has so much yet to uncover. That is another reason why I love working in this field so much – there is always more to learn, new discoveries to explore and new insights to apply.
And all the time that we are doing this, we are using our brilliant brains to do it. Isn’t that ironic? All the time you are reading these words about how awesome our brains are, and making sense of these squiggles on a page, your brain is doing it for you. Wow.
Now do you see how incredibly remarkable it is and why you need to think about it more often?