Updated 30 July 2014

Fascinating brain facts

The brain is a wonderful, mysterious and fascinating organ. Here are a few interesting facts.


Thought you knew everything there was to know about your most wonderful, mysterious and fascinating organ - your brain? Here are a few interesting facts that might surprise you.

  • Every person has more than 75 km of nerves in their body
  • Your nerves can send messages faster than a Grand Prix car travels
  • The brain is the most complex machine in the universe – it has over 100 000 000 000 nerve cells each with up to 150 000 connections
  • If every person on the planet simultaneously made 200 000 phone calls, there would be the same total number of connections as in a single human brain in a day
  • The gray cells occupy only 5% of our brains – 95% is taken up by the communication network that runs between the grey cells!
  • The brain is a mass of nervous tissue that regulates all physical and mental activity
  • Brain damage results when brain cells are damaged through lack of oxygen, disease, or a head injury
  • Common effects of brain damage include weakness of one or more limbs, impaired balance, memory loss and personality change, and epilepsy
  • Damaged brain cells do not regenerate but mental and physical functions can improve after mild or moderate brain damage with skillful rehabilitation
  • Compared to other animals, human brains are big for the body
  • The human brain is only just bigger than your two fists
  • On average, the male brain (1,4kg) is slightly bigger than the female brain (1,26kg).
  • Each half of the brain controls the other half of your body
  • In right-handed individuals (which comprise 91% of people): the right side of the brain controls: musical talent, fantasy, imagination, dreams, drawing, and painting. The left side of the brain controls: mathematical ability, ability to solve logic problems, controls language skills, remembers names, dates, and facts
  • The grey part of the brain is folded to fit inside the skull and, if flattened, it would cover the surface of an office desk
  • One brain cell connects to up to 25 000 others
  • The brain contains 100 billion brain cells of which, 100 000 are irretrievably lost each day
  • You can retain about seven facts at any one time in short term memory, but over the long term your brain has to forget things to make room for new memories

Written by Dr Frans Hugo, MBChB, M.Med Psychiatry and Dr Linda Van Wyk, MBChB, M. Med (Psych) from the Panorama Memory Clinic.

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For more information visit:
Dementia SA or Alzheimer’s South Africa

The Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa


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