12 Mind-Bending Facts About Your Brain


1. If your brain’s cortex were laid out flat, it would be about the size of a newspaper page.

Flickr: 24oranges / Creative Commons

The cortex is the outer layer of the brain and is made of grey matter.

2. Your brain is 60% fat.

Flickr: jepoirrier / Creative Commons

And its fatty molecules are among the most crucial to its ability to perform.

3. Over the course of human evolution, brain size has tripled.

4. Your brain uses about the same amount of power as a 15 watt light bulb.

Not saying that you’re dim, but…

5. Older brains aren’t slower because they’re weaker, but because they hold more information.


A recent paper in the journal Topics in Cognitive Science found that it might be older people’s experience, rather than cognitive decline, that means their brains are sometimes slower than a younger person’s.

6. Your brain is only about 2% of your body mass, but uses up to 20% of its blood.


A human brain weighs about 3 pounds, which is probably around 2% of your body weight at most. But it uses 15-20% of the blood flow from your heart.

7. You yawn when someone else does because of something called mirror neurons (probably).

In fact, just reading that sentence probably made you want to yawn. Mirror neurons are brain cells that activate when you see someone do something, as well as when you do that action yourself, and scientists suspect they might have something to do with contagious yawning.

8. There are about 86 billion neurons in an average human brain.


Not the 100 billion that is often stated.

9. The brain can survive for up to 6 minutes after the heart stops.

Your brain can’t store oxygen so its need a continuous supply of blood. If it doesn’t get enough, it starts to die.

10. Your brain can’t feel pain.

Bernadett Szabo / Reuters

Which is why surgeons can perform brain surgery when a person is awake. It’s because your brain doesn’t have any brain cells called nociceptors, which send signals to the brain and spinal cord if they encounter damaging stimuli.

11. The brain keeps developing well into your 20s and even 30s.

Scientists used to think your brain was fully developed at some point during your teenage years, but now it seems that doesn’t happen until much later. As it matures your brain “reorganises” itself, meaning you think in different ways as you get older.

12. A human brain can do more computations per second than a powerful supercomputer.

Fujitsu’s K supercomputer managed to simulate 1 second of brain activity using its 82,000 processors – but it took 40 minutes.

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Kelly Oakes is science editor for BuzzFeed and is based in London.
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