Changes in the brain can lead to mental illnessEvgeny Hmur/Shutterstock
According to the National Institutes of Health, scientists are learning that mental illness is associated with changes in the brain’s structure, chemistry, and function—so it has a biological basis in the brain. “Stress and environment can set into motion brain changes like blood flow, neural circuitry, neurotransmitters, and other functioning” that can lead to mental illness, Dr. Serani says. A recent Stanford study found that different psychiatric disorders have the same atypical brain structure in certain areas of the brain, which could mean they all have a similar cause. Make sure you know which everyday habits increase your risk of depression.
Smells are strongly tied to memoryKasefoto/Shutterstock
Whiffs of certain smells can instantly take us back in time to a particular memory, but what is it about our nose that is so strongly connected to our brain? One study from Brown University found that women had more brain activity when they smelled fragrances associated with positive memories than with fragrances they hadn’t smelled before. Other studies show more brain activity with olfactory stimuli than its verbal reference (that means the smell of roses, for example, instead of the word roses). Although scientists don’t totally understand why this happens, it could be because the parts of the brain that process smell, memory, and emotion are located close together and are actually connected—which isn’t true of information from our other senses. Find out why sense of smell indicates your risk for memory loss.
Your brain processes more than five sensessun ok/Shutterstock
When you discuss senses, you normally think about the big five: vision, hearing, smell, touch, and taste. But according to Harvard Medical School, neurologists have named several other ways we perceive the world. One is “equilibrioception,” or balance, which is regulated by our vestibular system in the inner ear. Another is “proprioception,” the sense of where our body is in space, which keeps us from bumping into things. Others include our sense of pain, our sense of temperature, and our sense of time. There are also internal senses, which tell us when we’re hungry or thirsty, or when we have to go to the bathroom. Check out these other 50 incredible facts about basically everything.