Did you know? ?
The human brain is six times larger, relative to body size that of other mammals. But the dolphin’s brain is larger than the human brain. Yet, it is us, humans that discovered the law of gravity, made rockets to fly to the moon, and create vaccines to battle viruses. So if not the size of the brain, what makes the human brain so “intelligent”? I would like to invite all of you to discover the evolution of the brain with WakeUpMemory™.
Let’s go on a time machine and trackback how the human brain has changed over the year! ?
- 500 million years ago the brainstem evolved. This occupies the majority of the brain in reptiles and lizards.
- 300-500 million years ago, the cerebellum evolved.
- 150-300 million years ago, the midbrain appeared.
- 3 million years ago, the new brain that includes the neocortex and cerebral cortex appeared.
- About 250,000 years ago, the midbrain reached the height of their evolution in brain complexity and mass in mammals. While mammals reached a plateau in brain development, we, humans continued to change the brain underwent an enormous leap in overall mass and complexity in a short amount of time.
- Since 250,000 – 300,000 years ago, the neocortex mass has increased by 20 percent. But at the same time, the human body has only increased by 16 percent.
?? To understand what this evolution really means, we need to look into which area of the brain performed which function.
- Brain stem: responsible for basic life functions such as heart beating and breathing.
- Cerebellum: responsible for balance, coordination, proprioception (spatial orientation and unconscious perception of movement), and controlled movement.
- Midbrain: responsible for the involuntary, autonomic nervous system such as body temperature, blood sugar levels, blood pressure, digestion, hormone levels control. The hippocampus, a C-shaped area that processes memory is located.
- Neocortex: responsible for higher brain function such as creativity, thinking, reasoning, learning, planning, analyzing, verbal communication.
As you can see, in the beginning, the only brain that existed was for survival. Reptiles could live (breathing and having a beating heart). Then, animals evolved to have more coordination for better movement. After this stage, animals started to have a more complex system that regulated their body automatically and process memory. And most recently (as in 250,000-300,000 years ago, not one week ago), humans developed the ability to think, solve problems, and use creativity.
So what makes us different from other animals? ?
It is the “new” brain that is composed of the neocortex, prefrontal cortex, and forebrain. The neocortex is 2-4 mm thick and made up of six layers. It consists of grey matter surrounding the deeper white matter of the cerebrum. While the neocortex is smooth in rats and some other small mammals, it has deep grooves (sulci) and wrinkles (gyri) in primates and several other mammals. These folds serve to increase the area of the neocortex considerably.
In humans, it accounts for about 76% of the brain’s volume. But this part of the brain could not expand further. Or at least, that’s what scientists concluded, because a bigger brain would mean that carrying a child would put women at risk, especially during childbirth (because the head is too big).
To have a larger brain without having to grow bigger, the brain folded in on itself. 98 percent of the neocortex is hidden within the folds. Think of this as a hand fan, when folded, the fan is tiny, but when unfolded, the surface area extends significantly.
?? What is Gyrification?
Gyrification is the process of forming the characteristic folds of the cerebral cortex. The peak of such a fold is called a gyrus (plural: gyri), and its trough is called a sulcus (plural: sulci).
And to me, this is when I feel the power of evolution. If we compare the brain of a mouse and human, the structures are quite similar. But one distinct feature is noticeable, now we understand the beauty of “folding.” The brain of a mouse is rather “smooth” compared to that of a human. The valleys and peaks are less visible, and the mice brain’s landscape looks like small hills compared to endless Mount Everest in humans. Although there are many other differences, this illustrates the power of what folding achieved for us.
Now we have uncovered in a quick snapshot of how the human brain! ?
This small but extremely powerful organ, it’s up to us to decide how we can use it. At WakeupMemory™, we believe in the untouched potential of the brain that we did not even get to touch because we were not given a manual for our brain. With scientific evidence, we crack the working of our brain and create our own manuals that work for us!
Visit Wakeupmemory.com for more!
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