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Issue Features
Discovery Magazine 8/1/1991

A Pumpkin in Your Head?

"Excuse me, is that a pumpkin inside your head?" As you read these words, your eyes see images on paper and send those images to your brain. The brain recognizes each letter and word. When the brain sees the word "pizza," for example, it knows what that means because at some point in the past you have "filed away" that word, and the picture-image of it, in your brain. When the brain sees the word "fence," it knows that a fence is not a pizza! But how does the brain know all of this?

Your brain is about the shape and size of a small pumpkin. And, oddly enough, doctors who operate on the brain say the brain feels like unbaked bread dough when you hold it in your hands. But that's no pumpkin in your head!

The brain may be small, but it is very important. It is so important that it is protected in three ways. First, there is the skull, or cranium (CRAY-nee-um), which is composed of two layers of hard bone. Second, there is fluid (liquid) all around the brain. The brain floats in this fluid, which helps absorb shocks if the head gets hit. Third, on the outside of the brain there is a covering called the dura mater. That is Latin for "hard mother." It is called that because it is very tough, and, like a mother, is very protective.

The brain is connected to our spinal cord, which runs down our back. Together, the brain and spinal cord are called the "central nervous system." It is in charge of all our movements, controls such things as breathing and heartbeat, and is responsible for incoming and outgoing messages for the brain from our eyes, ears, nose, and other organs.

The brain also performs the tasks of memory storage and thinking. If you touch a hot pan from the oven, your brain immediately tells your hand to move away. If you see a friend at school, your eyes send a picture to your brain, which then digs through its memory banks to match a name with the face. Then, the brain, which controls your speech, allows you to say "Hello, Jimmy. How are you?"

In addition, the brain helps direct such things as anger, love, joy, and other emotions. It does much, much more as well.

Some scientists who believe in evolution tell us that the brain "just happened." My brain won't accept such a silly idea. The brain is too well-designed and too complicated to have "just happened." The writer of Psalms said that we are "fearfully and wonderfully made" (139:14). Who made our brains? The only answer to that question is God.



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