Why Your Brain is A Lot Crazier Than You Think…

The human brain is, so far as we know, the
most complicated thing in the universe. It exists in the lonely darkness of the skull,
but by interpreting electrical signals from the senses it’s able to build up a detailed
picture of the world around it. Quite how accurate this picture is, and how
closely one person’s version of reality matches with that of another, is not known
for sure. It is nonetheless an impressive trick. There’s still a great deal we don’t understand
about the human brain, and it may well be that we’re never going to be smart enough
to figure it out completely. We do know that a lot of strange and extraordinary
things are going on inside our heads. These are ten reasons why your brain might
be crazier than you think. 10. Your Brain’s too Complex for a Supercomputer Japan’s K computer is one of the fastest
and most powerful supercomputers in the world. Its 88,000 processors are capable of an astonishing
10.51 quadrillion computations per second, and it chews its way through roughly the same
amount of electricity as a medium-sized town. Since becoming operational in 2011, at which
point it was ranked as the fastest computer in the world, the machine’s capabilities
have been harnessed for medical research, disaster prevention, and modelling climate
change. In 2014 it was used to create the most accurate
simulation of a human brain’s activity ever attempted. Only a mere 1% of the brain’s entire neural
network was simulated, anything more would have been too much even for a machine as powerful
and sophisticated as the K Computer. Even then it required some heavy lifting,
and it took the Japanese machine some 40 minutes to replicate just one second of brain activity. The K Computer is due for retirement in August
2019, having been surpassed by ever faster and more powerful machines. Even these are not yet capable of replicating
the complexity of the human brain. 9. Memory Capacity In 2007 a Canadian named Dave Farrow broke
a world record when he successfully memorized a sequence of 3,068 playing cards. While this is an extraordinary achievement,
particularly for those of us who struggle to remember where we left our keys, it only
scratches the surface of the human brain’s memory storage capacity. Until recently this was believed to come in
at somewhere around one and ten terabytes, but recent studies suggest the true total
is several orders of magnitude greater. Researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological
Studies believe the average human brain can store over a petabyte of data. That’s the equivalent of 20 million four-drawer
filing cabinets filled with text, or around 2% of the total number of written words in
every language in all recorded history. Much of this capacity is devoted to such things
as ensuring you don’t wake up having forgotten how to read a book or drive. By necessity, only a fraction of the remainder
is available to you at any one time. It would be enormously inconvenient if you
had to trawl through your memories of everywhere you’d ever been to work out where you lived. 8. Half a Brain can be Enough Human brains are by no means the largest brains
in the world. That particular distinction belongs to the
sperm whale, whose brains are around six times as heavy as our own. However, comparing brain size with body mass
is a far better indication of intelligence. By this measure the humble tree shrew comes
out on top, with humans placing in second. Surprisingly, it’s possible to remove an
entire hemisphere of a human brain with no negative impact on the individual’s intelligence
or memory. In rare cases surgeons have no option other
than to perform a hemispherectomy in order to prevent a patient’s seizures. In an adult this would be catastrophic, but
the outcomes for children who undergo the procedure at a very young age are surprisingly
positive. Their brains are able to adapt in a way that
an older brain could not. A recent study found that not only are most
of the children who underwent the procedure seizure free, many were thriving. One had even gone on to become a state chess
champion. 7. You Might Not Have Free Will It seems obvious that humans have free will. We make thousands of decisions every day,
and every time we act on these decisions we experience free will first hand. There is, however, a strong case to be made
that free will is nothing more than an illusion conjured by our brains. While it used to be believed that mind and
matter were two separate entities, we can now say with a good deal of confidence that
mind does not exist independently. The brain seems to be entirely material, which
suggests that it must obey the law of causality – that every effect must have a specific
cause. This leaves little or no room for free will. Any decision we make or action we take is
an inevitable result of the brain state which immediately preceded it, going back to even
before the moment we were born. This sounds odd, but it’s an established
fact that humans are terrible judges of their own behaviour. They can be manipulated into acting in a certain
way; when asked why they have done so they will subconsciously post-rationalize the action
and insist they had made a decision based on their own free will. The question of whether free will really is
an illusion is far from settled, and a new $7 million study has just been launched in
an attempt to come to a definitive answer. 6. Brain Plasticity In 2014 a Chinese man visited his doctor’s
surgery in Great Britain complaining of headaches and strange smells. Scans revealed a parasitic worm burrowing
its way through the unfortunate man’s brain, and doctors believed it had most likely been
in there for as long as five years. That he had been able to function for so long
with such relatively manageable symptoms is testament to the brain’s remarkable ability
to reorganize and rewire itself. Whenever we learn a new skill, or even form
new memories, the brains physical architecture remodels itself. The hippocampus, a region of the brain associated
with spatial navigation, is significantly larger in London taxi drivers than in the
average person. Differences in brain structure have also been
found between musicians and non-musicians. The brain’s 90-billion or so neurons are
linked by trillions of connections. Learning a new skill forms new links, while
recalling a memory strengthens existing links. Our brains are constantly changing, adapting,
and forming new connections. It’s this brain plasticity that means stroke
victims are often able to make a full recovery despite suffering permanent damage to parts
of their brain. 5. Your Brain Might be a Secret Genius For 31 years Jason Padgett’s existence was
relatively unremarkable. He worked as a futon salesman, and his free
time revolved around drinking and picking up women. That all changed in 2002 when he became the
victim of a vicious, unprovoked assault outside a nightclub. Padgett managed to stagger to a hospital across
the street, where he was diagnosed as having suffered a severe concussion. Padgett’s life would never be the same again. The violent attack had somehow unlocked a
previously untapped ability in his brain. Whereas previously he had shown no particular
interest or aptitude for mathematics, the attack had transformed him into a mathematical
genius. Even the way he saw the world had been profoundly
changed. It looked as though it was pixelated, and
everywhere he looked he saw complex mathematical shapes known as fractals. While Padgett’s experience was extremely
unusual, it wasn’t entirely unique. There are other instances of people suffering
a brain injury, only to come into possession of extraordinary new abilities. Acquired savant syndrome is rare, with only
a few known cases across the world. But some scientists believe almost any human
brain could potentially be rewired to unlock the genius within. 4. You Remember the Past all Wrong Our memories are fundamental in determining
our sense of self. Without them we would be both literally and
figuratively lost in the world. Considering their profound importance to us,
it’s surprising just how unreliable our memories are, and how little we know about
how they are formed. Conventional wisdom has it that memories are
recalled through connected neurons across the brain all firing at the same moment. Other research suggests that memories physically
reside within brain cells. However it’s done, the results aren’t
terribly reliable. Memories aren’t recorded perfectly ready
to be retrieved with total clarity at some future date. According to research conducted by neuroscientists
such as Daniela Schiller, each time we recall an event our memory of it is brought into
an unstable state within the brain. When it is stored back into memory again our
recollection of that event is slightly altered. We use our memories to tell ourselves a story
of who we are, but our source material is deeply unreliable. 3. When You Go on a Diet, Your Brain Eats Itself The human brain is made up of something in
the region of 90 billion neurons. Until recently it was believed that all of
these are present from birth. We now know that through a process called
neurogenesis it is possible for even adult brains to create brand new neurons. This is good news as we’ll lose plenty of
neurons as we navigate our way through life. Obesity, smoking, alcohol, and cocaine have
all been linked with killing off brain cells and even physically shrinking the size of
the brain, and a recent study suggests that even dieting can cause the brain to cannibalize
itself. Despite only weighing about 3 pounds, the
brain consumes about 20% of the body’s energy, and when there’s fewer calories than expected
coming in it doesn’t seem to much like it. The neurons start cannibalizing each other,
which sends out an urgent message to the body that it needs to eat something in the very
near future. This explains why losing weight can be so
difficult. 2. Your Brain Doesn’t Have Pain Receptors When our bodies suffer physical injury, pain
receptors fire warning signals up the spinal column to the thalamus, which serves as the
brain’s sorting house for sensory signals. The message is then passed on to the regions
of the brain that deal with physical sensation, thinking, and emotion. This results in the deeply unpleasant sensation
of pain. If the brain itself is injured, this doesn’t
happen. It doesn’t have any pain receptors of its
own. This means it’s quite possible for surgeons
or neuroscientists to poke around in somebody’s brain with them fully conscious and in no
discomfort. The patient is then able to assist doctors
in mapping out the brain, helping to ensure no damage is done during the operation. One Brazilian man named Anthony Kulkamp Dias
even kept himself entertained by playing guitar whilst undergoing brain surgery. 1. Synesthesia can be Learned Synesthesia is a condition that causes two
or more of a person’s senses to become mixed up. One of the most common types is to perceive
numbers as having a particular color. However, it comes in a wide variety of flavors,
such as tasting words or perceiving the days of the week as having specific personalities
or appearances. The condition is often associated with particularly
creative people. The famous physicist Richard Feynman saw equations
in colors, and this may have helped him win a Nobel Prize in physics in 1965. Around 1-in-300 people are born with synesthesia,
but it’s possible to train your brain to experience it. A study at the University of Sussex in the
United Kingdom had subjects read books where certain words appeared in a certain color. After several weeks of training most of the
group reported seeing those colors even when reading standard black text. However, it seems the effects were not permanent,
and within a few weeks the synesthesia had worn off.

100 Replies to “Why Your Brain is A Lot Crazier Than You Think…”

  1. “Around one in 300 people are born with synaesthesia” Surely you mis-spoke, Simon? After all, it is not even in my iPad’s gigantic word memory! And wouldn’t this make it so common we would all be familiar with it, and most of us would either know someone with it, or know someone who knew someone? Admittedly I did know OF it, but I certainly couldn’t have said what the term meant if asked. It is indeed one more way our poor beleaguered brains are impressive. But I wonder, since the human.brain IS so impressive, and, as shown here, may not allow us free will…why can’t our brains stop harmful behaviour. As in, “don’t order that second drink, /don’t take that drug, you’re killing me!”

  2. I don't understand what why synesthesia is such a mystery when pretty much everyone knows what green smells like. It's just that, but with different senses connecting.

  3. I'd just read an article about free will recently and it was proven that the brain peaked long before the simple action happened. and it was proven as far back as 1964 when 2 German scientists did an experiment/testing and called the brain activity before the alleged free will event Bereitschaftspotential.

    I'd like to see the experiment done today with today's better and and more accurate equipment.

  4. "He worked as a futon salesman, and his free time revolved around drinking and picking up women."  That's the job I want.  Life is cruel.

  5. Memories are compressed at night when you sleep. I don't think you really remember things, just a simplified version stored away.

  6. The savant syndrome must be similar to when Neo became able to see the underlying matrix. They're seeing our Universe's simulation.

  7. Free will is like the internal momentum that causes a raw chicken egg to resume it's spin after you stop it for an instant.
    It's not like a separate thing from the brain and not like ordinary motion because you don't have free will unless you can build up enough momentum in life to make your own decisions.
    It is an axiom though, and doesn't need proving because it's self evident (It's the only way a volitional being has of making decisions).
    The illusion of not having free will though always leads to socialism and widespread destruction when certain powerful personalities build up enough political momentum (through will power) to take over the lives that have been denied free will (through physical force).

  8. Sir, reference number one. Monday does have a personality: It Is Evil, sadistic, demented, somebody grab the Theasaurus. (sp?) Therefore, Mondays have a personality.

  9. #4 – Our brain distorts our memory every time we access part of it. Does anyone know how to put it through gdb(1) so that I can fix the code?

  10. A computer cannot rationalize…..a computer is black and white, on and off, in and out, it also doesn't have empathy, eg. Does my bum look big in this? A computer has nothing to compare this too and doesn't know the truth will hurt…….

  11. Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. When the damn thing decides to go wrong (and nobody knows or cares why) you’re up that creek without the proverbial paddle.

  12. The idea that the brain is the source of consciousness . Or that it is an electrochemical epiphenomena , is mere assertion . Science is as far away from understanding sentience as it ever was

  13. I once read about a experiment when the subjects wore a prism mask that only inverted their own optical vision, the world in focus with no variant of colour or scale but upside down. After a few days they were all entirely functional with all mobility etc. After several weeks the glasses removed and without the glasses the world remained inverted yet soon returned to not upside down. I read this in a newspaper so it may never happened. I dont know if any participants desired to be wearing the inversion glasses permanantly.

  14. List idea – top ten things you think are different but are the same thing. When I was 35 my intestines decided they had enough cabbage and weren't going to take any more. I learned by episodes of crying on the bathroom floor that cauliflower and broccoli were just different forms of cabbage not really more different from different breeds of dogs. I should have seen the Brussels sprouts coming but there are at least 10 that you might think are different but in some similar way are the same thing.

  15. Your brain is crazier than you think. Lol cause your talking out a brain thinking 😅 sorry that's funny for me it was a long day at work

  16. Pretty sure my brain isn't too much, if at all, crazier than I think it is considering how psychopathic I know I am.

  17. 4:40 Of course free will is an illusion, don't need a $7M study to know that. Since past, present and future are also illusions your entire world line from birth to death (and far beyond before and after when you include the world lines of the individual atoms you are made of) exists all at once. In effect everything you did or will do in fact exists all at once, most just can't observe it all at once with any accuracy. Quantum mechanics is weird like that.

  18. 6:08 $20 says it wasn't unprovoked. He probably tried to pick up some dude's gf that didn't want to share.

  19. Man can’t even make a computer 1% as powerful as the human brain but you believe the brain just randomly created itself?

  20. I remember reading about some individuals who had the connective tissue between their hemispheres cut at a young age, but with neither hemisphere being removed. Deprived of direct communication with each other, either half of the brain developed to compensate for the loss of the other. These individuals could do things like write with either hand, at the same time, in distinct styles — even in different languages. Sometimes, these individuals appeared to forget things with one half of their brain, while the other (capable of expression only through the use of half of the body, without a speech center) remembered. There's some craziness going on upstairs. I kind of hope we never figure it all out.

  21. Maybe what we consider to be extra abilities now might have been more common if not for all the environmental factors that puts our body's under stress

  22. Simon: “As always, thank you for watching.”
    Me: “No Simon, thank you for teaching me that July tastes like lemons and I’m not weird.”

  23. The human brain is amazing and strange. For an interesting look at just what is possible try reading “The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat” by Oliver Sachs.

  24. Just because the brain has no pain receptors doesn't mean there aren't people out there who can make your brain hurt – they exist.

  25. Another superb video. Who'd have known I was such a brainiac. Butt? Why does my check engine light stay on all the time? Obviously I'm overdue for brain surgery. Whats that going to cost?

  26. The brain is definitely the most complicated aspect of biological life.

    As far as I'm concerned the most complicated thing in the universe is our cosmos and the interactions that take place within it.
    However, without question both lack a great deal of understanding.

  27. Human brains and minds thinking about a video on human brains made by three human brains and minds about research on the human brain by human brains and whether the mind exists at all or if it’s all just the brain thinks the brain/mind.

  28. How can my brain be crazier than i think when it is the only reason i have to think its crazy in the first place.

  29. True story: in the late 80s I took some LSD one night and during the peak of the trip, I totally experienced synesthesia. I remember i could hear the different colors on the walls. Also, while listening to music, I could see a ripple in my vision everytime the snare hit during the song.
    I don't recommend taking LSD.

  30. strange things happen in the world of Simon too, I watched this this evening after sitting through a university lecture in psychology, where we discussed a few of these points. creepy

  31. Hell yeah. I never knew I had synaethesia. But when u said people can relate days of the week or other words to colors or as a color. That's what I have done my entire life. I never knew it had a name. That's awesome. Thanks Simon.

  32. When I give my 11 year old two choices (ie: dinner etc.), he always replies "the one on the left" or "the one on the right"….🤔 a truly amazing kid!

  33. Number 3, what an awesome excuse to not go on a diet 🙂 Collmbined with Number 7 its like ok so I have no free will and if I diet my brain eats itself.. Well that means I`ll eat another Nutella bread now thanks Simon 🙂

  34. Would you consider that trained synesthesia or just simply conditioned interpretation?

    Unless you define synesthesia by just that, the perception. I assumed it also included the causes and mechanisms. Which would have to be different, in this case.

  35. I am one of the few who remembers things accurately. The only way for me to not remember something is for me to not experience it myself. It is a curse. Having to remember everything accurately and hearing other people's recollections of events… I have had to learn an entirely new skill to cope with this. I call it willful ignorance, where when one such occasion occurs, I must just smile and nod. The alternative is to initiate an argument, where the other person swears up and down to no end that their recollection is the one that is accurate. And the only way to get them to admit they were incorrect in their recollection is provide absolute, definite proof. And even then, sometimes they still deny it.

    Just imagine, being only one of ever so few who are sane in an otherwise entirely insane world…

    There is relief on the horizon though. It appears as I get older my memories are getting less accurate. In most cases though I can still catch myself. Case in point, last night I actually misquoted myself. A minute later I was able to correct myself. I knew it wasn't correct when I said it, it "felt off". But I said it anyway to get my point across. And came back to correct it. When the day comes when I can no longer correct myself I will be at peace.

    Right now, as things are, it is very difficult for me to empathize with others. You and I live in two completely separate realities, for now.

    This comes with quirks too. Like I am otherwise quite forgetful. I can leave my room and be almost to the kitchen then I forget why I even went to the kitchen. And while you have had similar instances, for sure, it is not as frequent with you as it is for me. Yesterday I forgot to mow the lawn. How do you forget to mow the lawn? I can remember everything you said, word for word, verbatim, but I forget to mow the lawn… Yeah.

    Try explaining to your wife how you forgot to mow the lawn, or why you called her but forgot what you were going to say, for the hundredth time, but when a dispute comes up everything said and done is immediately recalled in perfect detail…

    "but I want to remember everything!" No, no you don't.

  36. I studied psychology at the University of Sussex, there was no mention of synaesthesia in my time! I bet it was an interesting study.

  37. Sorry, to say that matter is the creator of mind is actually far from certainty within science. We actually don't know what consciousness is or why it exist. It really shouldn't. We should be robot-like animals running around, only following our instincts. Consciousness changes that. And consciousness isn't isolated to humans either. Other animals of all different kind has shown to have very curious conscious behavior. Even the most primitive creatures make very conscious choices.
    That means consciousness exist on all levels, and does not rely on a "brain". Even plants are conscious.
    So no, science has yet to explain consciousness. Thus I say it does not belong to the material world, but is rather the creator of it.

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