Nov. 18, according to media reports, in general, the healthy human brain is an incredible machine, it can keep the heart beating, perform complex mental tasks, and even let you walk while chewing gum. To a large extent, the brain can avoid its own “traffic jams” and easily handle all of these things at once. To avoid interference between different parts, different areas of the brain operate at different frequencies.
For example, the hippocampus sends signals at a frequency of about 5 Hz, while areas of the brain associated with movement run at a frequency of 32 to 45 Hz. We can think of these areas as different levels on the exit ramp, and signals sent at different frequencies may be transmitted at different levels to avoid interference. Through differences in frequency, different parts of the brain can operate simultaneously, without interference or misunderstanding.
Although the system is complex, it is not perfect. After all, there must be a mechanism to activate all these signals before they can be transmitted in the brain. Some scientists liken this mechanism to some kind of “router” that receives information and sends signals to the entire brain. These signals do not collide with each other due to frequency, but if the signal interval received by the router is too short, it may be “overloaded” by itself.
After receiving the signal, the brain goes through a period of recess. During this time, the brain often needs to reset itself in order to receive and process the next signal. If the information is received during this period, it may be missed or mishandled because the brain’s “router” is occupied.
Sometimes the brain experiences a mini”clog because the path that neurons pass as they transmit signals is blocked. The researchers found that the neural pathways of fruit flies sometimes have small, benign blockages that block brain signals and cause “traffic jams” for up to 30 seconds. Most of the time, these clots go away on their own, but some may persist, interfering with communication between different parts of the brain. Further study of these obstructions could help scientists treat serious neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Does the brain get tired like muscles?
After a long day of work, taking the final exam, or driving your child to take part in a variety of extracurricular activities, I’m sure many people will feel a sense of mental exhaustion. When this “brain drain” begins to emerge, no matter how hard you try to concentrate, you may end up finding all the futility.
Does this mental fatigue mean that your brain is overworked? In other words, will your brain feel as tired as muscles? Is there any difference between mental fatigue and what we often say?
Although the answers to these questions involve some complex chemical science, fortunately there are ways to bring mental fatigue under control before they collapse, and these methods are easy to understand.
Strictly speaking, the brain is an organ, very different from the muscles. The brain does have some muscle tissue, but most of it is adipose tissue. In the brain, neuronal cells transmit information through chemicals. Although the brain is not a muscle, brain cells also use energy to function.
The brain needs “fuel” to provide energy, and glucose is the main source of energy. When glucose enters brain cells, it is converted into adenosine triphosphate (ATP) by the mitochondria. This is a complex organic chemical used to store and transmit energy in cells.
Researchers in Australia and Belgium believe ATP may be the key to a “brain drain”. They believe that when your brain works hard, it consumes all the glucose and makes you feel exhausted. When glucose levels decrease, ATP levels increase, and an increase in ATP prevents the production of dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical that feels good and stays motivated.
The study was published in the 2018 journal Sports Medicine. The study concludes that when your brain doesn’t get enough dopamine, your willingness to continue working decreases. So even if the brain isn’t a muscle, you’ll be chemically tired of thinking too much.
We don’t always use the brain’s “high-order executive function.” While “high-level execution” can include obviously difficult tasks, such as taking a law school entrance exam, it can also include a combination of small challenges, such as processing a large amount of new information at a time. Over time, our brains automatically handle things and consume less energy. For example, if you drive to work in the same way every day, this activity will consume far less brainpower than you do constantly looking for new routes. When your brain needs to deal with a steady stream of new information, it has to focus on every decision, which overuses high-order executive functions and leads to mental fatigue.
Complex chemical reactions in the brain
Although consuming the glucose available in the brain can lead to mental fatigue, simply consuming more glucose does not completely restore energy to the brain. Snacking or drinking coffee may help, but neither will eliminate brain loss because brain cells function much more complexly.
Each brain cell is connected to 100,000 other cells in a highly integrated network. When you feel tired, your brain reduces blood flow and electrical activity. Scientists’ understanding of the brain is still theoretical, and while they know that rest is important, they are still unsure why it is important.
However, simply put, there are four steps to maintaining normal brain function:
(1) There must be glucose in the blood;
(2) Glucose must be transported effectively within cells;
(3) Glucose must enter the mitochondria;
(4) The mitochondria must produce ATP.
Any breakdown in any of these four steps can lead to mental fatigue. If no glucose is available, cell function may slow down or it may not function properly. However, the techniques currently used by scientists do not provide information on the cellular level. These are the issues that are currently under study.
From stress to burnout
Whether the scientists can explain it or not, you will really feel the mental fatigue. Your stress response changes as the mental challenges, whether from the fast pace of work, politics or modern life, come at a constant pace. These can prompt your body to release a lot of the stress hormone cortisol.
Stress or stress is not always there. Stress can also lead to “exhaustion”, which can be described as “too many problems or problems that have no solution”, a mental and emotional strain caused by excessive stress that affects your immune system and interferes with your attention, memory and concentration.
How to be kind to your brain?
The good news is that we can avoid a mental breakdown. Knowing the limiting factors in brain function, such as whether there is glucose, will help you think differently. The prefrontal cortex is a place for high-level thinking that requires a lot of energy, so your brain can’t perform complex tasks all day long, so you can consider completing the most challenging activities in the morning.
If you can, you can live a more balanced life, don’t take on too much, have limits, face to face with the new responsibility, to consider the pros and cons, you need a regular stress management program, can let your brain rest, or provide energy. It must be regular.
However, if you are experiencing mental fatigue and there is no clear cause, the expert’s advice is to check your condition. Because people are subject to different cognitive influences, just as they are physically affected, we should be alert to changes in emotional perception.
A healthy diet and lifestyle can also help, including getting enough sleep, not being too yourself, and not being a perfectionist.
If you are experiencing some kind of burnout, you should try to find out why. Your brain can only do so much. Before scientists have a better understanding of how brain cells work, you have to focus on lifestyle changes. (Any day)