Try to stop thinking for five seconds. Ready?…steady…GO! Okay, now you’re just reading this and not-stopping-your-thinking! So why can’t we stop thinking? Well, this is the handiwork of our old friend, evolution. A long time ago moment-to-moment readiness was necessary for survival. In those days people had to worry about things like lion attacks, leopard attacks, monkeys stealing berries, scorpions, falling rocks, drowning, giant snakes, and so on. This required a brain that was constantly working. To learn more, listen to the Question Your World Radio Report below from the Science Museum of Virginia.
Naturally, not every single cognoscente being had the most efficient brain and thus the process of natural selection got involved. Those that ended up as menu items on the savannah could not pass their genes on to the next generation. The ones that did survive turned out to be our ancestors. This process, generation after generation, fine-tuned the brain to be working 24 hours a day.
A lot has changed since then. After all, you’re reading this on a computer monitor and not having it read out to you around a tree, right? Well, our brain has not stopped working. This genetic gift from our ancestors is still working around the clock, but now it has to process different types of information. At some capacity we’re still ready to react to sudden things like lion attacks, but more realistically car accidents or dropping a tray of food. Regardless, our brain is still constantly thinking.
Our preservation instincts have had to adjust with the modern times:
“Was that my exit?”
“I didn’t know I have a wealthy relative in Angola?”
“So, what will my boss think of this?”
“I wonder what will happen if I eat that now?”
and so on…
This cerebral power-house works around the clock! No wonder it consumes 20% of our body’s energy! That’s pretty amazing considering that the brain is a mere 2% of our body mass!
This non-stop thought factory is what makes us who we are so please remember to think responsibly!
Check out this animated video produced by the Science Museum of Virginia on the “The Amazing Brain.”
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Article by Prabir Mehta, Science Museum of Virginia