Posts Tagged ‘gray matter’

What Color Is Your Brain?

Sunday, September 4th, 2011

Actually, when looking for this answer I was surprised to find an array of answers. Some say the brain is pink, others say it is mostly gray. We usually think of the brain as being light gray or white, because we have seen them in jars on television or in a science class when they have been preserved in formaldehyde.

We hear the brain referred to as ‘gray matter’ so logically we believe our brain is totally gray. Surprisingly, that is not the entire true. Our brains are actually gray with black, white and red and not very pretty to look at no matter what color it is.

Living matter, our brains are comprised of nerves, veins, blood vessels, cells, nerve fibers and all sorts of neurons and neuro-connectors. Gray matter is found all through the brain (and the spinal chord), but so are the white nerve fibers that connect to the gray matter.

Black is present (called substantia nigra, Latin for black substance) in one of the four deep brain nuclei due to the special pigmentation of neuromelanin, present in pigment bearing neurons of the nuclei in the deep part of the brain. This pigment is what colors the skin and hair, and is part of the basal ganglia. Although the functional nature of neuromelanin is unknown in the brain, the pigment is made from substances including dopamine and norepinephrine, that are essential in brain function. In humans, these nuclei are not pigmented at the time of birth, but develop pigmentation during maturation to adulthood.

Red is from all the veins your blood. Now, you may have heard that your blood is blue and only turns red when it comes in contact with oxygen. That is not true! Deoxygenated blood (that has not passed through the lungs for oxygen) in the veins are a dark, crimson red while oxygenated blood in your arteries is a brighter red. Sometimes a different shade of red, but always red! Veins are not actually blue – they’re white-ish. They only look blue because of the way your eyes perceive the color and the way light reflects.

Think about when you get blood drawn. No contact with air is made, and it is still red, or if you were to receive an IV and the tubing had been flushed through. If your blood backed up (no air in tubing), it would still be red. It really is just a myth that blood is blue. Furthermore, if you’ve ever seen someone receiving dialysis, you’ll notice that all the tubing with blood is red, and that is not exposed to the air.

So now, when someone asks you what color your brain is, you can tell them –
Red, white, gray and black.

This article was shared by Hello, Ron White, memory training expert, memory keynote speaker and twice U.S.A. Memory Champion.

Source:

Wikipedia – Melanin: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melanin#Neuromelanin

Discovery, Fit & Health – http://health.howstuffworks.com/human-body/systems/nervous-system/10-brain-myths1.htm