Friday, 11 October 2013

Brain - It's All in Your Head

Cerebral, Cerebrum, The most complex object in the universe
Image by DJ


[Old English brægen = Middle Low German bragen, bregen, Middle & modern Dutch brein from West Germanic.]

1 The mass of substance contained in the skull of humans and other vertebrates;
singular & (usually) plural cerebral substance.
Originally specifically the cerebrum, now the entire organ;
transferred an analogous organ of an invertebrate. OE

2(a) The organ as the seat of sensation, motion, or human speech, the organ of thought, memory or imagination;
singular & (frequently) in plural intellectual power, intellect;
thought, sense, imagination. ME

2(b) singular & (frequently) in plural. A clever person; the cleverest person in a group, etc., the mastermind. colloquial. M19

3 An electronic device comparable in function to a brain;
a computer. Usually more fully electronic brain. M20

A few inches from these words, protected by just a few millimetres of skull, sits what has been described as the most complex object in the known universe: the human brain. Granted, it is not the most attractive organ we possess, but it is by far the most wonderful. Everything on this page is now being processed by the brain - your brain - as it deciphers this crude collection of ancient Latin and Arabic symbols, contextualising them, determining how you feel about them and what you will do with them. All the while, in tandem with all your other organs and bodily processes, your brain is ever vigilant, monitoring your health and alerting you to potential dangers. It is by far the most awesome collection of matter known to humankind - and you have one, all of your own, unique and irreplaceable, beautiful beyond all description, sitting silently and unobtrusively inside your head. It is the human brain.

Do please leave your most cerebral comments below.


  1. A friend of mine has recently had his second session of surgery to remove a tumor in his brain. Everything went well, he's still in hospital but recovering steadily. What's really weird though is his taste in music is now completely different. He says that everything on his ipod now sounds horrible, and the only music he enjoys is Country&Western.
    Also his all time favourite drink, a mango smoothie, now tastes of soap.
    The doctors say it's normal to have altered tastes and preferences initially, he'll probably revert back to normal, but it's quite likely it could stay like this for the rest of his life.
    I wonder then do Rugby players, Boxers, or Stuntmen, anyone who takes repeated knocks to the head for a living, constantly change their cd collections, ipod playlists, magazine subscriptions, favorite restaurant etc.?

    1. For those with MS (like me), it's quite common to see changes in personality. I don't think the mechanism is well understood, but as MS causes damage to different parts of the brain, people can find they have less inhibitions, are more prone to stress and outbursts of anger and emotion, and it can even affect the decision-making processes, causing people to make rash or unwise decisions. I haven't heard of changes in tastes, but I suppose the brain is so complex that whether it's tinkered with by degrees (as in MS) or in a large, dramatic way (like a tumour), it's impossible to fully predict what ramifications it will have across your body, mind and personality.

  2. My brain is now wondering which is the most attractive organ I have.

    1. I knew someone was going to pick me up on that! Speaking generally, I would suggest that the most attractive organs are the eyes and the skin.

      So there.

  3. We don't usually say "brein" (see etymology), that's too posh a word, probably. "Hersenen" is more common. That's a plural, there's no singular "hersen". They're so important they are multiple even if they're just one!!!

    1. They're so important they deserve plural exclamation points, too!! See?!!

    2. You've got brains and exclamation marks in abundance, Bibi - of this I have no doubt!!!!!!

  4. You and me and all the other Lex readers!! Let's re-introduce the exclamation mark in regular blogpost-commenting!!!

    All this internal shouting makes my brain tired.

    1. The exclamation mark is underused! Brainy writers must use it more! It's a sign you've written something really, really, really worth reading! Booya!!!

  5. Recently I've read there are memory cells in our eyes, our gut and our heart! The brain doesn't quite have it all! Bwahahahaahaaa...

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