By Ana Maria Rodriguez
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Additional info for A Day in the Life of the Brain (Brain Works)
The coach was about to blow the whistle when it happened. Feeling Pain Mark and his friend were fighting for the ball when Mark fell and hit his head on the ground. Instantly, he felt a sharp pain on the right side of his forehead. He sat on the grass and touched where it hurt. He felt something wet and warm that trickled down his face—he was bleeding. Mark felt a bit scared. This happens when the pain signals that come from his wound reach the amygdala. The coach ran to Mark and inspected his wound.
Mark unwrapped the rectangular piece of solid milk chocolate and chewed it slowly, savoring each bite. What is in chocolate that makes people feel better after they eat it? In the United States, each person eats an average of 11 pounds of chocolate each year. Scientists think that people crave chocolate because some of its ingredients act on the brain, triggering positive moods. Chocolate has about 380 known chemicals. Scientists have not figured out yet what effect each of the chemicals has on the brain, but they know what some of them do.
Mr. Mozart approached Mark’s group and gave the kids some useful advice. “You probably feel a little nervous about performing in front of a crowd and that’s normal. To feel less nervous, take deep breaths instead of short ones. 1 During the “fight or flight” response the amygdala and the hypothalamus work together to stimulate many organs of the body. As a result, heart rate increases, muscles tense, sight becomes sharper, and one may feel “butterflies” in his or her stomach. Mark took a couple of deep breaths and thought about the musical piece he was supposed to play.