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What is the brain made of?

What is the brain made of?
Bethany Ellison from Tyne and Wear (Age 5-14)

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One Response

  1. It depends on what level of organisation you pitch the question.

    In molecular terms it’s mainly composed of water, proteins, fats and carbohydrates (sugars). It also contains many ions (charged particles) which are responsible for the electrical activity of nerve cells, and other molecules, such as the chemicals that nerve cells secrete to send signals from one to another.

    At the next level of organisation, these molecules go to make up the cells of the brain of which there are two main types: neurons (nerve cells) that are responsible for the computing power of the brain, and glial cells that help to support the neurons and control the environment in which they operate. The human brain has about 100 billion neurons, but there are 20-50 times as many glial cells.

    At a still higher level of organisation you can think of the brain as containing circuits made by connecting neurons in fantastically complex ways. Tiny electrical impulses travelling through these circuits give rise to our sensations, emotions and behaviour. One of the big questions left in science is trying to understand how activity in these cellular circuits gives rise to the richness of experience and action we call the mind.

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