Our brains have developed over 500 million years give or take a few. It is the most remarkable and complex organ controlling all the functions of the body and is at the center of the nervous system. The brain controls both involuntary actions such as heart rate, respiration and digestion, and higher mental activity such as emotions, thought, memory and abstraction.
Our brains weigh on average 2% of our body weight yet use 20% of our daily energy, and it is estimated that there are 400 miles of blood vessels in the brain. In 2012 a neuroscientist named Dr. Suzana Herculano-Houzel counted the neurons in our brains, determining there were 86 billion.
In 2020 researchers directly measured oxygen levels in an intact brain and correlated it with neural activity. During normal activity, only 50% of oxygen is used for neural activity, the remaining 50% is required for glial cells and maintaining the metabolic rate of other nerve cells.
Every millisecond our brain cells are responding to and interpreting the vast amount of information being received from our body and environment, processing and filling it according to what our brains think it ‘means’. Mostly sub-conscious this feedback loop responds to the incoming information based on pattern recognition so creating habits and ways of thinking and feeling. It’s an efficient way for the brain to react as it means that it is saving precious daily energy, hence why it doesn’t easily embrace change, especially when tired or stressed.
Until recently this would have been the accepted theory but previous understanding obtained through patient injury etc., provided insights into the different functions of the brain, but has moved on due to technological changes including functional neuroimaging (fMRI), position emission tomography (PET) and EEG scans showing us real time what is going on, specifically the deeper interconnectedness of the brain and behaviour, and the opportunity through neuroplasticity to think flexibly, continue to learn and change the way we feel and think, so optimising what we have.
Neuroscience works in conjunction with other behavioural sciences, economics, medicine, computer sciences and engineering to shape our future world. The emerging field of neuroscience is helping us learn how to develop a better understanding and picture of how our brains and minds work, opening exciting and challenging possibilities for both individuals and organisational behaviour, and the implications for personal and executive development.
Neuroscience is at the frontier of giving us the evidence and knowledge to understanding what our individual brains and body need to be healthy, to learn and grow, to reach decisions, promote creative thinking, adapt and change, feel safe, develop emotional resilience and remain focused.
There is so much we know but so little. Neuroscience is helping us to understand more, and new research is being made available everyday sharing new learnings, adding to existing knowedge or questioning what we thought we knew. It is so incredibly exciting and valuable to us as we continue to develop daily and for its application in business during these unsettling times for our minds and brain.
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