As the most complex organ in our bodies, the human brain really is fascinating. Technically it’s our brain that makes us who we are- storing our memories, personality, fears and hopes for the future. It takes care of both conscious and unconscious processes that keep our bodies alive and functioning. But for something so crucial, science still knows very little about the brain. There are processes which it does, that to this day cannot be fully explained. And while there are lots of theories, much of what the brain does is still a very grey area. Here are just a few of the functions of the brain, that science and doctors know very little about.
Consciousness is the state of being aware of, and responsive to our surroundings. It’s our awareness and alertness to the outside world. While we can define what consciousness is, the greatest minds of the world still can’t solve the mystery of why human beings are so much more than just complex robots. We don’t just retain and regurgitate information, but we feel too. Our emotions are what set us apart. Evolution could have created us to function like emotionless zombie-like creatures which acted upon instinct, as opposed to conscious ones. But it didn’t- and why that happened is important. It’s just something that science hasn’t cracked yet.
There are many fascinating theories as to why we dream. On the one hand, it could be purely accidental, just a side effect of random neural impulses. On the other hand, it could help us learn, understand and process emotions and ideas. A lot of research has been poured into understanding why we dream, but it’s still not well understood. Dreaming occurs when we enter REM sleep, which is the most beneficial stage of sleep. Failure to achieve REM sleep over time leads to death. So why we don’t understand fully the causes, we do know that it’s incredibly important.
Symptoms of Brain Damage
Brain injury law defines a traumatic brain injury as ‘trauma caused by an external force’. This includes things like sports injuries or vehicle crashes. The brain can also become damaged or experience changes as a result of aging, illness or disease too. Cancers, seizures, lesions and a whole host of other things can affect how it works. Any kind of damage can cause all manner of symptoms. They can range from sensory issues such as blurred vision, ringing in the ears to changes in taste and smell. Cognitive issues like memory, concentration and mood changes. Some people have even been reported to experience full personality changes after damage to brain. While doctors can often pinpoint the area which has been damaged to account for the symptoms and behaviours, it’s difficult to explain exactly why this happens. For example, people can suddenly start writing backwards (mirror writing) or completely change their speech patterns (foreign accent syndrome) which are tricky to fully explain.
Mental Health Issues
Understanding mental health has come a long way in recent years. Not too long ago, anyone showing symptoms would be locked in asylums or be subject to painful experimental treatments. Science now understands that the brain and body are linked much more closely than previously thought. But we still have a long way to go in working out how and why mental health issues occur, and why some people develop them and others don’t.