Body-ody-ody: Get to Know Yours

2 mins read

With more than 600 muscles and 206 bones, the human body is fascinating to say the least. However, there are some questions about our own body that are always in the back of our minds. Here are all the answers you will ever need. You’re welcome.

Why do we cry when we are sad?

Save your tears for another day? Researchers believe that crying decreases anger, increases forgiveness, and creates social connection by showing vulnerability. Emotional tears are chemically different from tears caused by chopping onions––they contain more protein, which sticks onto and runs down our faces slower. These “attention-seeking” tears increase the likelihood of people seeing our tears. How manipulative!

Why do we laugh when we get tickled?

Laughing when tickled is an automatic emotional response. One theory is that we evolved to be ticklish to protect vulnerable parts of our body, such as our neck and armpits. Scientists found that the movements of someone who is tickled resembles someone in extreme pain. The reason why you can’t usually tickle yourself is because, if you were to try, your brain would know that it’s you “attacking” yourself. There’s a few theories for why you laugh when you’re tickled. One goes that laughter is a form of submission to the person tickling you, encouraging them to stop. Your body is basically saying, “You win. Heehee.”

Why do we get brain-farts?

Brain farts, or randomly forgetting information you should know, can occur at any time, from grocery store trips to high-stakes sports games. Also known as maladaptive brain change, brain farts can be detected by brain scans 30 seconds before the mistake occurs. This led researchers to believe that brain farts are the result of the brain trying to preserve energy and rest during repetitive tasks. In other words, your brain wants a time-out!

Why do we get goosebumps?

We can get goosebumps from standing in the cold or listening to Adele while crying in the shower. They occur when our piloerector (hair-attaching) muscles contract in quick bursts to generate heat and adrenaline. When the muscles tighten, the hairs pull the skin up, forming the small bumps. These muscles are connected to our sympathetic nervous system, which is affected by emotions such as fear, pride, and excitement—so it’s quite literal when someone says “you gave me chills.” For our long-haired ancestors, goosebumps made them seem bigger to enemies, which is why we sometimes get goosebumps when receiving a parking ticket in the middle of class.

Why is yawning contagious?

Remember that time when someone in class yawned and then for the next few minutes, the entire class couldn’t stop yawning? Although there’s no definitive answer as to why we yawn, it is more than boredom or sleep-deprivation. One of the most accepted theories is that yawning lowers the brain’s temperature, as facial muscle movement increases blood flow allowing heat to be dissipated.
Additionally, experts agree that yawning is indeed contagious. But the reasoning varies yet again. Yawning could have evolved to be contagious in order to increase the alertness of a group. Others believe contagious yawning evolved in order for people to subconsciously display empathy by matching emotional states.

Why do we dream?

From dreams about living in a fairytale to nightmares about drowning in the Pacific Ocean, dreams are an inevitable yet often wacky part of all our lives.
One theory explaining the role of dreams is that they allow us to be our own therapists. Since we are more emotional when we dream than when we are conscious, we can negotiate emotional issues in dreams.
In addition, dreams have a creative purpose. Real life is much more restricting to one’s creativity whereas dreams are limitless. In fact, Larry Page invented Google after a dream he had where he could download the entire web and kept clicking links!
Dreams also help us retain important memories, remove unimportant ones, and sort through complex thoughts. Research has proven that sleeping helps retain new information. Turns out sleeping can be better than studying!

Jolene is a senior at M-A and this is her second year in journalism. She looks forward to writing more opinion pieces about controversial topics this year. In her free time, she enjoys running track and listening to music.

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