The human brain: key to our advancement and new exhibit

Fri Dec 3, 2010 10:31am EST
 
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By Nick Olivari

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - The brain, which has been humans' biggest advantage in surviving catastrophes and subjugating other species throughout history, is the focus of a new exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History.

"Brain: The Inside Story," which run until August 14, 2011, shows how the human brain evolved over millions of years and uses molecular, chemical and electrical signals to interpret information, weigh decisions and learn at every stage of life.

It allows humans to not just react to the world, but to imagine how it could be and to plan to make those dreams a reality.

"Visitors should take away from the exhibition a sense of awe for their brain," said Rob DeSalle, the exhibit's curator and a geneticist at the museum. "At how it is structured, how it works chemically, how it has evolved and how it changes itself as we develop and grow older."

The exhibit draws on 21st-century research and technology and offers perspective and insight to viewers through imaginative art, vivid brain-scan imaging and dynamic interactive exhibits for all ages.

The human brain weighs about three pounds (1.4 kilograms) and is mostly made of water. But every second a single neuron, the building block of the nervous system, in the brain may send as many as 1,000 signals which can zip from neuron to neuron at speeds of up to 250 miles an hour.

And since a single neuron can connect to at least 1,000 other neurons, a single brain may have at least 100 trillion connections in all.

Yet brain signals, which run on electricity, involve less than one-tenth the voltage of an ordinary flashlight battery.   Continued...

 
<p>A view from the American Museum of Natural History's exhibit "Brain: The Inside Story." REUTERS/AMNH/Handout</p>