Humans are highly irrational and incredibly prone to manipulation.Professor Lutz Jäncke
Does the brain always retain full control of the body?
The brain does not monitor every little activity at the periphery. Much occurs automatically and is controlled directly by the organs or the spinal cord. But it always retains control. Everything that is felt is generated based on information that arises in the periphery and is sent up to the cortex.
How much takes place automatically?
We can do 90 percent and we know 10 percent. The majority therefore takes place completely automatically. This amount may be even higher. We consciously control a great deal less than we would have thought. This is the same for all humans.
What can the transmission grid learn from the operating principles of the brain?
At the moment, brain research tends to learn more from technology than the other way around. For example, we use mathematical algorithms to understand the brain functions. An interesting future topic is the self-organisation of the brain. Transferring this to technical systems could become an exciting challenge.
How controllable are humans and their brains?
Humans are highly irrational and incredibly prone to manipulation. We are inundated with masses of information and manipulated from all sides, even subconsciously. Our brain is, by nature, not designed for this flood of information. This is beyond the capacities for which our brain is made. Our brain is thus constantly under extreme pressure to process all this information. I am not sure whether this is good for us and our brain.
What fascinates you personally about the brain?
How can an organ weighing 1.2 to 1.4 kilograms have such an unfathomable influence on humans and the fate of humanity? That’s the reason why I went into brain research.
And what continues to surprise you?
I am increasingly surprised by the irrationality of humans. In our everyday behaviour, we are incomprehensible beings. And what is more, humans are not improving. Humans have not become more intelligent over the course of evolution. And that in itself is actually quite remarkable, isn’t it?
Facts on the brain
- Nerve impulses from and to the brain can travel at a speed of up to 432 km/h.
- When we are awake, our brain generates between 10 and 23 watts – enough to illuminate a light bulb.
- Although the brain accounts for only 2 percent of our body weight, it consumes 20 percent of our total energy.
- In total, the blood vessels in the brain are approximately 600 km long.
- Each time a memory is created, new links are formed in the brain.
- The brain waves triggered by the scent of chocolate have a relaxing and rewarding effect.