Five facts about your brain

Brain Awareness Week 14-20 March 2022

Brain Awareness Week (14-20 March 2022) is a global campaign, organised by the Dana Foundation, which aims to highlight the progress being made in the treatment and prevention of brain disorders such as dementia, stroke and depression.

To mark this day and to celebrate this important organ, we’ve put together a list of five things you might not know about the brain:

1. It would take you over 3,000 years to count each cell in a human brain

According to Age UK, the average human brain contains about 100 billion neurons. This is about the same numbers of stars as there are in the Milky Way. Neurons are connected by trillions of synapses, and information runs between neurons in everything you do, think or see. If these signals are affected in any way, it can lead to physical symptoms such as muscle pain and you may need an Electromyography (EMG) to diagnose whether you have a nerve or muscle disorder.

2. Short term memory lasts less than two minutes

Have you heard the myth about goldfish only having a 30 second memory? The human brain too can also only retain small amounts of information, keeping this available for easy access for about 90 seconds.

3. Headaches are caused by a chemical reaction

Chemical activity in your brain, the nerves and blood vessels (as well as the muscles in your head and neck) can play a role in headaches. Changes in the levels of oestrogen and serotonin, which helps send signals between nerve cells, can trigger a headache or migraine.

4. Exercise is good for your brain

Aerobic exercise raises your heart rate and increases blood flow around your body, including to your brain. As you breathe more heavily, more oxygen is delivered to your bloodstream and to your brain where it helps produce neurons in the part of your brain that controls memory and thinking. It’s thought that this may help the effects of dementia.

Exercise also makes you feel better, can help you manage your weight (and lower your blood pressure, which reduces the risk of stroke).

5. Alcohol affects your brain

Prolonged use of alcohol can lead to slowed reaction times, blurred vision, speech problems and memory issues. According to Alcohol Change UK, there’s evidence that regular excessive drinking can even increase your risk of developing the most common forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s Disease and vascular dementia.

It’s not too late to change your drinking habits – our guide to healthy living can help.

How we can help

At Benenden Hospital, our private Neurology service can help with the diagnosis and management of disorders that affect the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) and the peripheral nervous system (nerves and muscles which trigger movement and transmit sensations from all parts of the body to the brain). We offer a range of neurology services and tests in a comfortable and reassuring environment including Botox® for Migraines, EMG or nerve conduction studies and MRI scans.

We understand that it can be worrying to come to a hospital for neurology treatment, but we’re caring, respect your privacy and are easy to talk to. Alongside our Neurologists, our Neurophysiologists will work to support you with a speedy diagnosis so you don’t have to wait or worry and can get back to being you as quickly as possible.

Find out more by completing our online enquiry form or by calling our Private Patient team on 01580 363158.

Published on 14 March 2022