Shameem Akthar, yogacharya trained in the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre, poses five questions which will unravel this marvellous part of our body, and relate to the idea of its health in a proactive way.
Photographs: Ali Eminov/Creative Commons
Even though it is possibly the most used part of our body, and is busy even when we sleep, we know very little about the brain.
It weighs two per cent of one’s body weight, but uses 20 per cent of its fuel.
Its health is implied in several other chronic diseases elsewhere in the body.
It generates energy equivalent to a 20 watt electric bulb.
It was originally created to support the more primitive part of us -- our digestive system.
Nature designed the nervous system in such a way as to first provide food for it, and protect the organism against becoming the food for some other thing.
Even though it takes pride of place among our body parts, the brain was not understood much earlier.
Its 100 billion cells communicate to each other through a complex and still-unravelling network of neuronal cross-talk that can rival the legendary Tower of Babel.
This cross-talk is largely bio-chemical in nature or electrical in quality. Yet, we fondly, and possibly very wrongly, believe that we can control this major control centre.
When the brains of those who have died from Alzheimer’s are examined, a flood of thick ink-like spread is seen to have devastated the brain silently.
The brain can be riven with tumours. Even though it assesses signals from throughout the body, there is no pain centre as such in the brain.
It just interprets disturbing signals from nerve endings as pain and that is sufficient for that part of the body to initiate any action to protect itself.
Many sub-sciences have now spun off around the biological study of the brain because, clearly, this is one subject that requires intense specialisation.