Thanks to years of studying the insides of people every chance we get, we have a pretty good grasp on the functions of almost all of our body parts. The brain , however, seems to get more mysterious the more we try to study it. Because of its complexity, it’s no surprise that studying it (as well as the nervous system) is a full-fledged scientific field on its own, namely neuroscience.
As our scientific tools get better and we get a deeper insight into the inner workings of the most important part of the body, we realize that it’s capable of much more than we previously thought. Here are ten of the most mind-blowing things you had no idea the human brain can do.
1. Natural Alarm Clock
We all know someone who claims to have a natural alarm clock that wakes them up exactly when they need to. “I don’t need an alarm; I am an alarm,” they’d say casually, before you proceed to shut them down with research on how that’s not possible. If you actually look into it, though, you’d realize that they aren’t kidding. The natural body alarm clock is quite real and is as good—if not better—than any alarm money can buy.
Provided that you have a regular sleeping schedule you stick to, as most of us who have jobs do, the inbuilt alarm clock of the body is quite effective at waking you up before the stipulated time. As per research, it works due to stress hormones released by the brain a few hours before your wake-up time. They allow you to gradually wake up without being abruptly interrupted by the real alarm clock, indicating that the brain subconsciously hates alarms as much as us.
You don’t need to do anything special to activate it other than sticking to a set schedule, either. This is why routine officegoers often find themselves waking up minutes before the alarm is set to go off.
2. Listen And Learn During Sleep
We understand sleep as a time of partial shutdown for the brain. We certainly don’t expect the brain to have any of its regular abilities while we’re sleeping, especially the ones that allow it to encode learned information on the basis of sensory cues.
Surprisingly, the brain is capable of doing exactly that, as long as it happens during the REM phase. In a study published in Nature Communications , they put 20 volunteers to sleep and played acoustic patterns at them in all stages of their sleep. They were then asked to identify the same patterns when they woke up.
They found that the subjects could identify the sound patterns heard during the REM phase but didn’t recognize the ones from other, deeper phases of sleep. Now, it certainly doesn’t mean that you can study for your tests while you sleep, but it disproves the previously held notion that the brain is unable to pick up new information when it’s sleeping.
3. Instantly (And Accurately) Judge Someone’s Character
No matter how nonjudgmental we claim to be, when we meet someone for the first time, we inadvertently make a mental impression of them based on just visual cues. Do they look rich? What’s wrong with their
fashion sense ? Are those scars criminal in nature? While you’re busy doing that, though, the brain would have already had made a subconscious profile of the person, and a much more accurate one, too.
Research shows that the brain is scarily fast at making up judgements about other people, taking about 0.1 seconds for the whole process.
More importantly, its judgements turn out to be right, whether it’s about their sexuality, competence at the workplace, or political affiliation. It’s when you start to think on your own and override your brain’s judgements that they turn into stereotypes that are often inaccurate. The cues that the brain notes are also impossible to fake.
4. 360-Degree Awareness
It has been speculated—in horror movies as well as real life—that people have a “sixth sense” when it comes to knowing if someone is watching them from behind. You’re supposed to feel uneasy, start sweating, and feel the hair on the back of your neck stand up. It’s thought of as a vestigial sense from our hunter-gatherer days, though it’s absolutely not. The actual reason it happens is that we’re perfectly able to observe all 360 degrees of our surroundings.
If the eyes seem to be limited by the scope of their field of vision compared to other animals, it’s because the brain doesn’t need to be able to look behind. It has other, better means of making a full-scale 3-D model of our surroundings. Studies have found that our sense of hearing is quite accurate at detecting even the slightest shift in our surroundings, especially the parts we can’t see. That, combined with our other senses, provide the brain with a largely accurate “view” of all 360 degrees of what’s around us.
5. Build Muscles Just By Thinking About Exercise
It’s summer already (at least for our Northern Hemisphere readers), which means that once again, many of us were unable to get that perfect summer body we had promised ourselves when the year started. It’s largely because of the understandable reason that being fit requires you to work out , which is definitely not easy to do.
Apparently, however, you can do it just by thinking about working out, at least when it comes to building muscles. In a study by researchers at Ohio University, they wrapped the wrists of 29 volunteers in surgical casts. They then asked half of them to think about focusing on exercising their wrists for 11 minutes a day, five times a week. At the end of it, they found that the half that did the imaginary exercise developed muscles twice as strong as the other half, even if they did the same amount of actual exercise—none.
It’s not just this study, either. Many previous studies have indicated that you can increase the physical strength of your muscles by the power of the mind alone. Can you get six-pack abs by this method, then? Well, you’ll never know until you try!
Culled from Listverse, Read the Original article here