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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Interesting facts about human body

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(1) When you enter REM sleep (the dreaming stage of sleep), the brain’s motor neurons stop firing so that your muscles cannot move while you dream. This is called REM atonia.

Of course, whenever you wake up, your muscles are able to move again, but occasionally, REM atonia can malfunction. One can actually wake up while still paralyzed. This is called sleep paralysis.

Because you are still in the dream stage, not only are you awake and unable to move, but you can also experience hallucinations, which are really just dreams from your still-in-REM sleep brain.

This can be very startling when it happens to people who have never heard of sleep paralysis, but if you are familiar with what it is, there is absolutely nothing to be afraid of.

I have actually experienced very fascinating and pleasant hallucinations, but I will save the stories for another post in the future.

(2) You have a “second brain” in your gut called the enteric nervous system.

The enteric nervous system consists of a network of neurons within the abdominal cavity. It spans from the esophagus to the colon and consists of more neurons than there are located in the spinal cord.

The enteric nervous system controls the entire digestive system, as well as regulating hormones. It plays a major role in our emotions and behavior by communicating with the central nervous system via the vagus nerve.

Surprisingly, it can even function without receiving signals from the brain. The digestive system would continue performing its tasks as usual even if the vagus nerve were severed.

Because the enteric nervous system independently controls so many different functions, it is often referred to as the “second brain”.

You have probably heard the phrases “gut feeling” and “butterflies in the stomach”. These distinct feelings are a result of the enteric nervous system releasing hormones.

(3) About every five years, all the atoms in your body get replaced.

This can lead to some interesting and perplexing questions.

What makes you you if the matter you are composed of now is not the same matter you were composed of five years ago?

It cannot be your memories, opinions, or personality that make you who you are, because those things also change.

This leads us to a paradox analogical to this problem, a paradox known as the Ship of Theseus.

Suppose there is a ship whose planks are replaced one at a time over the course of a few years. How many planks have to be replaced before it is no longer the same ship?

After all the planks are replaced, what if all the old planks are used to build another ship which is identical to the other? Is that the original ship? Or is the remodeled ship the original?

Now apply this paradox to humans. What if every atom that was in your body five years ago were rearranged to make another body just like yours?

Which one would be you?

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