Is the brain an organ? Or is it a muscle? And does it need to be trained and maintained?
Oh, the burning questions! Whether it’s a myth or a persistent metaphor, there is a common belief that the brain is a muscle.
The belief that the brain is a muscle may have stemmed from the phrase ‘exercise your brain‘ or ‘your brain is like a muscle.’ And although it makes sense as a metaphor, the reality that science teaches us tells a different story.
Is the Brain a Muscle?
Let’s debunk the myth: is the brain a muscle?
On the contrary! The brain is actually an organ.
The average brain weighs 1 pound at birth. By adulthood, it increases to about 3 pounds.
This amazing organ is mostly made up of a network of grey and white matter with just a little bit of muscle. Also, its cellular structure and its functions are more complex than muscles.
The brain plays a huge role in our intelligence, creativity, emotion, and memory. It also controls the other organs and movements (this includes muscle movements).
And while your muscles contract and relax. Your brain, on the other hand, does not.
The ‘is your brain a muscle?‘ confusion may lie with the phrase, ‘exercise your brain.’ We often relate exercise with muscle. However, in this unique case, your brain isn’t actually a muscle. Exercises for your brain have nothing to do with physical activity (although physical exercise does your brain good, too).
In fact, your brain isn’t even supported by muscles. Instead, it is cushioned and protected with a constant supply of 125ml of cerebrospinal fluid. This fluid allows your brain to float around, giving it a comfortable little ride as you go through your day.
What the Brain Is Made Out Of?
If your brain isn’t considered a muscle, then what is it made out of?
Your brain is fat.
No, really. At 60% fat, your brain is the fattiest organ in your body. As the center of the nervous system, it integrates all sensory data through its cells, known as neurons. And it’s through these neurons that your brain communicates with every organ in the body.
Each moment, cells carry electrical charges, impulses which carry messages through your entire nervous system. And it’s these that allow you to make sense of the world, and adapt to changes in your environment.
Does the Brain Have Muscle Tissue?
There are no muscles in your actual brain or muscles to hold it into place, with one exception.
The arteries and arterioles bringing blood to your brain do, in fact, contain smooth muscle cells and elastic tissues. These structures are designed to regulate your brain’s blood flow and maintain blood pressure. Apart from that, your brain is composed of neurons.
Scientifically, it’s clear your brain is an organ, not a muscle.
And your brain doesn’t exercise like a muscle either. However, it might be useful to use a metaphor for comparing your mind to a muscle.
Is the Mind Like a Muscle?
Let’s distinguish between the brain, the physical organ, and the mind, the cognitive ability:
- The brain is a flexible, ever-evolving set of neurons.
- A mind is a learning machine, always adapting to its environment.
Though the brain isn’t considered a muscle, it’s useful to think of the mind this way.
The mind is always a work in progress. Mental stimulation and ‘exercise’ allow our minds to grow stronger, faster, and more efficient. It handles millions of daily tasks, from memory to attention and problem-solving.
When it comes to neurons, you either use them or lose them. So, just like a muscle, ‘exercising’ your mind makes it stronger.
You can avoid letting your mind or muscles deteriorate by believing in your ability to be stronger and smarter. And you can develop your mind as a flexible, learning machine — a Superbrain.
Reach out and take the next step to enhance your superbrain. You’ll be glad you did.