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How much do you know about yourself? You probably know about your body anatomy, but did you know that the scientific name of the thumb is “pollex” and the scientific name of the toe is “hallux?” Human psychology is a complex topic that gives researchers and scientists sleepless nights trying to understand every bit of it. And one thing remains certain, we will never understand ourselves in one day, but here are ten facts about you that you probably never knew.

1. People see their faces as being more physically attractive than they are.

Self-enhancement is one of the facts about yourself that will blow your mind. According to research, people tend to think more highly of themselves than they do of others. The reason for this condition is the nature of self-enhancement to boost their self-esteem. Technically, another person will correctly describe you better than you would describe yourself. In a bid to debunk “Dove Really Beauty Sketches,” a video that went viral, a team of researchers conducted psychological research to determine the level of self-enhancement. Original photos of the research participants were taken and edited.

The participants were then asked to pick their original picture from a group of edited and original images given to them. Surprisingly, the participants chose the beautifully edited photo and ignored the unedited photo. They were then asked to pick an original photo of a stranger from the set of images presented to them. And without hesitation, they correctly picked the unedited picture of the stranger. The researchers concluded that people think more highly of themselves than they do of others.

However, self-enhancement is not considered a lie because the person describes themselves as who they truly believe they are. The good thing, though, about self-enhancement is that it boosts confidence and determines how to choose leaders and partners. Watch out the next time you want to describe yourself to someone because the other person may describe you otherwise. (1, 2)

2. An “eyebrow flash” is an unconscious gesture, wherein a person wishing to approach another whom they recognize and are preparing for social contact raises their eyebrows for approximately a fifth of a second. People generally return an eyebrow flash, unless it was given by someone whom they do not know.

You’ve probably unknowingly eyebrow-flashed people uncountable times. An eyebrow flash is a social signal used as a body gesture by people. It happens mostly between people who know each other. The flash takes three stages and lasts for only about one-fifth of a second. The three steps are the onset when the eyebrows raise to the maximum, the apex which is the time the brows remain at that maximum height, and the offset when the eyebrows return to their initial state. This spontaneous facial expression, at most times, signals an acknowledgment or fear.

Research showed that senders and receivers of eyebrow flashes differ in cultures and convey different messages. Children raise their eyebrows when they are looking for something or trying to make eye contact with an adult. In some cultures like the American culture, it breaks the eye contact rule. In Europe, the eyebrow flashes signal disagreement. (1, 2, 3)

3. Your heart rate increases about a minute before partaking in exercise. It is known as the “anticipatory rise” and happens involuntarily.

Shortly before an exercise, the brain acts involuntarily by sending signals to the heart in the form of hormones. Some of these hormones are adrenaline. This vital chemical will trigger the heart to change from parasympathetic mode to sympathetic mode causing a slight increase in the heart rate. The amount of blood pumped out per minute will increase which is vital for the body during the exercise. Also, the heart will redirect more blood to the body part that will need it the most during the exercise. The anticipatory rise will help circulate more oxygen into the muscles and take the carbon dioxide from them to the lungs.

According to research, the anticipatory rise plays a significant role in preparing you to efficiently and quickly adapt to the exercise. The heart rate will increase during the workout and drops after the training. (12)

4. You mostly breathe out of one nostril at a time, and the “dominant” nostril switches every hour or so.

Did you know that you heavily breathe in and out from one nostril? Technically, your nostrils take turns when it comes to taking in air. When you block one of your nostrils using your finger and breathe with the other, you will realize that breathing is just as easy using only one of the nostrils. In science, this is called a “nasal cycle” You may not know it because the autonomic nervous system controls it. This is the same system that controls your heartbeat rate and digestion.

Here is how you breath more in one nostril at a time. The blood flow increases in one of the nostrils causing the erectile tissues in the nose to swell. The erectile tissue in the other nostril will shrink, therefore able to take in more air.  The cycle will alternate after ninety minutes or so. According to research, about 85% of humans have the nasal cycle. In as much as this condition sounds unreal, it helps you smell better and have healthier nostrils. Also, this cycle protects your nostrils from drying up due to fast-moving air. (123)

5. “Hysterical strength ” is what we experience when faced with a life-or-death situation. At that time, humans can harness more of their muscle strength than usual to overcome the obstacle they’re facing. This incredible feat is usually associated with people lifting cars to save someone.

Hysterical strength is another fascinating fact you probably didn’t know. According to research, human beings can lift an object weighing six to seven times their weight. However, fear, pain, and fatigue discourage them from attempting such feats unless faced with a life or death situation. You’ve probably heard of a case where someone lifted a car off someone in an effort to save that person’s life, and the person lifting the car was not injured.

According to science, when humans are in a life or death situation, the body executes what is called “stress response.”  During this terrifying moment, the adrenaline level goes through the roof to give the muscles an extra push. The brain will release the endorphin hormone that will suppress pain to allow you to lift more. One thing to note is that you cannot achieve this superhuman act unless you are under stress. The human body is structured to respond to the extreme in stressful events. In 2012, Laura Kornacki, then 22 years old, lifted a car off his father who had been pinned down by the vehicle as he was working on it in his garage. People exhibit these supernatural powers under stressful situations or when they think the victim will die if they don’t act. (123)

 6. The cornea is the only part of the human body which has no blood supply. As such, it has to draw its amount of oxygen directly from the air.

The cornea is the outer layer of the eye that gives it a lens shape and cushions the aqueous humor. It is specialized tissue with unmyelinated, super-sensitive nerve endings. However, due to the nature of its work, the cornea gets oxygen either by diffusion through the aqueous humor or directly through the air.

Blood carrying oxygen cannot be supplied directly to the cornea because this part of the eye needs to be transparent to allow in light. The nutrients diffuse through the tears and are transported to the cornea from outside. However, the cornea has active cells that need a constant supply of oxygen. And because it is located on the outer part of the eye, it gets its oxygen directly from the air and continues to perform its task fo allowing in light for humans to see. (12)

7. Both humans and domestic dogs elicit a dramatic increase of oxytocin, the bonding hormone, from the other when staring into each other’s eyes. This is similar to a human mother and her infant.

Dogs are known to be the most excellent of companions to humans than any other animal. Research shows that the high social skills in dogs are related to the oxytocin hormone. And this hormone is also suspected of having contributed to the domestication of dogs. The oxytocin hormone is the same hormone responsible for social bonding in humans. It is produced in the hypothalamus and released into the bloodstream by the pituitary glands.

A research done by Takefumi Kikusui found that a gaze initiated by a dog had a profound impact on the oxytocin levels on the pet owner. The team concluded that humans domesticated dogs and not wolves because of their ability to bond. (123)

8. Humans get goosebumps because of an evolutionary trait that was used to make fur stand up to make the animal appear larger.

The word “goosebump” was coined from the bird named “goose.” The tiny protrusions seen on the bird when its feathers are plucked are like those seen on human skin. The reason why we see goosebumps traces back to human ancestors. The apes raise their fur in a reflex action to make them appear big and scare away their enemies. Also, they raise their fur when they need to trap in more air for insulation. And since humans do not have long hair, all we see are goosebumps on the skin.

This reflex action in humans is known as “piloerection” and is caused by freezing temperatures, intense emotions, music, opiate withdrawal, voluntary control, and ingestion. When a human being experiences any of the above conditions, the sympathetic nervous system initiates a reflex action whereby the arrector pili muscles erect, forcing the tiny hairs on the skin to stand up. During cold temperatures, the muscles will pull the hair straight to hasten the evaporation of water from the skin surface in an attempt to regulate the temperature inside and outside the skin. Goosebumps are mostly seen on the arms, legs, and the neck. (source)

9. In weight loss, around 84% of the fat that is lost turns into carbon dioxide and leaves the body through the lungs.

Weight loss is often a trending topic, and everyone is on a spree to burn off a few calories. But where does the fat we lose go? According to research, 84% of the fat is lost through the lungs. One interesting thing to note, though, is that most health practitioners do not understand how and where the fat goes.

Fat is stored in the body cells in the form of triglyceride which consists of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Oxygen taken in during exercise breaks down fats to releases energy that helps the body with the training. During this process, carbon and hydrogen atoms share the oxygen in a ratio of 2:1 to form carbon dioxide and water. These two elements are waste materials in the body. Water is released in the form of urine, sweat, and tears. Carbon dioxide, on the other hand, which forms the most substantial part of the waste material, is released through the lungs.

On average, a person loses 200g of CO2 every day, and a third of it occurs during sleep. But, you cannot lose fat by breathing heavily. You need to exercise. (12)

10. The white part of our fingernails is called “lunula.”

“Lunula” is a Latin word meaning “little moon.” This Latin name is also used to refer to the crescent-like white part of your nail. This delicate part of the nail outlines the nail structure and is not as white as you think. It appears white because of the stratum basale, the deepest layer of the dermis layers blocks the blood vessels. Any damage on the lunula and the nail’s structure will be permanently affected. (source)

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