How well do you know your brain?

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Your brain doesn’t really do several tasks at once when you multi-task. It switches very quickly from one task to another. Because switching takes time, multi-tasking isn’t a very effective or efficient way to work.

Scientists are still puzzled about why people have déjà vu — the feeling that you’ve been somewhere or done something before even when you haven’t. But new research suggests that déjà vu occurs when people are somewhere new that’s similar to a place they’ve been or do something similar to something they did before. For a moment, they mistakenly think they were there or did it in the past.

A bigger brain doesn’t always mean bigger thoughts. In fact, human brains were larger back when we were living in caves, but our bodies were also larger then. As we evolved, more of the space in our brains became used for complex processes such as language, thinking, and memory.

A 1999 study of Einstein’s brain, based on photographs taken of it after he died in 1955, showed that the parietal lobes, which are linked to math ability, appear 15% wider than normal. But the size of his brain was a little smaller than average

We may be the smartest creatures on the planet, but others have bigger brains. Larger brains are needed partly to control larger muscles. A sperm whale’s brain weighs about 17 pounds and an elephant’s weighs a little more than 10 pounds. An owl’s brain weighs 0.005 pounds and a bullfrog’s about one-tenth of that.

When researchers looked at brain scans of Buddhist monks meditating, they found that the parts of the brain that help people concentrate and make decisions became more active. The burst of activity was very strong in young monks learning to meditate. But it was smaller in monks who had meditated more. This could mean the older monks’ brains had learned to focus more easily.

The right side of your brain controls movements on the left side of your body whether you’re right or left handed. The left side of your brain controls movements on the right side. That’s why damage on one side of your brain affects the other side of your body. So if you have a stroke in the left part of your brain, your right arm or leg could be paralyzed.

The two sides of your brain, called hemispheres, look almost identical. But they handle different tasks. When you form words or do math, you use mostly the left side. Face recognition, spatial abilities, and music are tied to the right side.

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