Here are some brain and neuroscience-related jokes and riddles, with explanations of the terms and the word play involved. Informative as well as funny! Enjoy!
And if you’ve ever wondered if there was a neuroscience explanation for why we find things funny, there is. Check it out here.
Brain waves refer to repetitive patterns of activation of groups of neurons (more like ocean waves with lots of droplets of water together forming a wave than a hand waving). Different types of brain waves are associated with different types of brain activity and the creation of different types of memory.
A neuron “fires” (or “is fired”) when it sends an electrical impulse. Neurons do this over and over again, so they continue to work even after they are fired.
Brainwashing refers to the idea that someone can be forced to change their beliefs by various psychological techniques. Trying to brainwash someone does not necessarily require the use of a bathtub.
There are about a hundred billion neurons in the human brain (estimates have ranged from 80 billion to 150 billion). So if you have an empty skull (no neurons), there is no brain. A no-brainer refers to an easy decision, hence the play on words.
Without addressing the philosopher’s question whether the mind and brain are the same, having an elephant sitting on it would be a lot.
When cells of any kind are grown in outside of a live animal, the process is called being cultured. It really has nothing to do (other than a common word) with Arts that are considered cultured, like ballet and opera. And you can still wear cultured pearls when attending the ballet.
This is a play on the phrase “nervous wreck” with the “wreck” replaced by “Rex” (Tyrannosaurs Rex). Stress impairs learning, so maybe that’s way dinosaurs are extinct.
The words “cents” and “sense” are homonyms. But our senses are worth way more than a penny apiece.
PET refers to Positron Emission Tomography. It is a type of brain scan that involves the injection of a radioactive dye to create an image of structures in the brain. While dogs and cats are pets, the truth is that they probably wouldn’t enjoy a PET scan.
When someone retires from a career, they will often reflect on the many memories they have of their experiences. The hippocampus is a structure in the brain that is involved in memory creation. Ever wondered what creates memories that last? Here’s a key.
A neuron’s potential refers to the process of sending an impulse down its axon to communicate with another neuron. Being a good actor will require a lot of those potentials!
Myelin is the coating (like a wrapping) around axons (the part of the neuron that conveys signals to other neurons). It makes signal transmission faster.
The retina is the part of the eye that captures visual information from which it is sent to the visual processing part of the brain. Seeing eye to eye means agreeing. Interestingly, our two eyes are getting slightly different information from the outside word because of their different positions and our brain’s ability to combine that information is what helps create what we call binocular vision. Did you know that visual and cognitive training can improve visual processing skills?
Neurons connect and are activated in organized collections, called networks. It’s too bad there isn’t really a Neural Network; it might offer more mind-stimulating programming than most of what’s on TV.
Part of the way neurons send signals involves the passing of ions (electrically charged particles) across a membrane. It turns out that Ion is also a real television channel.
Neurons communicate via electrical impulses. When the impulses of large groups of neurons in the brain of a student get out of control, then a visit to the principal’s office is, indeed, more likely. When a student ends up in the principal’s office because they couldn’t control their impulses, what they lack is inhibitory control, one of three core executive functions.
Synapses are the connections among neurons, the junctions at which they communicate. When the brain eliminates a synapse, because it is no longer needed, it is called pruning, an apt analogy to the removal of a dead branch in tree trimming.
The amygdala is a brain structure in the limbic system responsible for emotion. There is no such thing as a “mygdala” but that doesn’t matter because it can still trigger an emotional response. Emotions have a big impact on learning.
This is another play on the idea of the mind and brain being the same. Giving someone a piece of your mind usually refers to telling another person off in anger. This patient might very well have been angry, but in this case, the removal of part of the brain would be physical.
A functional MRI allows scientists to see which parts of the brain are more active than others when someone is performing an activity. There isn’t really such a thing as a dysfunctional MRI, but there are plenty of dysfunctional families.
Terms like focus and concentration are often used interchangeably with attention, referring to sustained attention in particular. However, which a camp for cognitive skills training is a great idea, a concentration camp (such as those operated in Nazi Germany) would not the be place for it!
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