Wednesday, September 14, 2011

This is your brain

What will happen when you get older? Will you have trouble remembering things? Do you already have trouble? Are you stressed about it?

Stressing out about it isn't going to do any good. Literally. I read an article today that said stress releases a hormone called cortisol, which kills brain cells in the hippocampus (I think that was the campus where I lived during my college years--it was totally hip). This is the area of your brain where your "episodic memory" is stored.

So prolonged or frequent stress can lead to memory loss.

But here is the thing. It is said we only use 10% of our brain. I like to think of that 10% as a thriving metropolis, like New York City (and I'm the mayor). But as in NYC, there are brain cell murders going on, and drive-by shootings by the "Stress Gang." So if I started getting low on virtual memory, why wouldn't I get on and order some new cells from the suburbs of my brain (the 90%) that aren't being used, to be delivered into my memory center in the heart of my city? I mean, really, what are those brain cells in my suburbs doing, anyway?


So I did a little research and found out the brain cells I'm not currently using are all part of a National Park System in my brain, and they cannot be used for any other purpose. My brain is made up of 10% city, and 90% National Park.

Just my luck.

What are your brain suburbs doing?

Editor's Note: Melanie Sherman is aware that the 10% of the Brain myth is an urban legend. It is just that she has trouble remembering that.


  1. thank you for another chuckle. I love the image of a National Park system in my brain. Far preferable to the image I used to have of those unused lumps of gray matter resembling deserted inner city buildings or piles of murky scrapings from my paint palette.

    So if we populate our parks with wildlife, they'd be forced out of the unused category, wouldn't they? What kind of park has nothing in it, though? You're going to have to help me with this..... :)

  2. So, if a tree falls in my brain's National Park system, will anybody hear it?
    Oh, maybe those poundings I get in my temples towards the end of the day are the woodpeckers. Now, that makes sense.

  3. Since I have a National Park in my brain, that means I have a great place to go write!!!

  4. Dale,

    Apparently there is, indeed, wildlife in the national park part of our brains, as evidenced by Kathy O and the pounding woodpeckers.


    Haven't you ever awakened at night and wondered what woke you? I think it may be a tree falling in your National Park system.


    I certainly hope you have purchased an annual pass to your national park system. And I hope you have a good battery on your computer. And don't litter.

  5. I have my trusty notebook to fall back on!

  6. Jase,

    A notebook? Oh, that is like an iPad, right? :)

  7. I sure like national parks. Is it the one I haven't been to visit?


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