Words by Tarryn Basden (she/her)
Tarryn once tried to bring about Armageddon. It didn’t work.
What do brains and balls have in common? A lot more than you might think!
We all know someone who seems to coast through life with nary a brain cell to speak of. However, a team of researchers from Portugal and the UK made a discovery about the human brain and another favourite body part which may or may not come as a surprise to many of us.
After noting links between brain activity and mental health with other aspects of physical health, the research team wanted to compare the physical aspects of the brain with other tissues in the body to see what similarities they might find to explain these links.
They compared the proteins of thirty-three different tissue types including the brain, heart, stomach, cervix, testes, and skin. While they found similarities between all of the tissue types –of course, they did, they come from the same body – the two most similar tissues in the human body are… (drum roll, please) …the brain and the testes.
Between the brain and testes, the study found over 13,000 proteins in common.
While this may not come as a surprise to many of us, the team believes the reasoning behind the similarities goes beyond just controlling the minds of penis-havers everywhere.
For one, both the brain and testes are responsible for making stuff (either little thoughts or little swimmers). Most tissues only need to look after themselves, but one of the main roles of both the brain and the testes is to make stuff. So, it wasn’t overly surprising that the proteins most highly expressed in both are mostly involved in tissue development.
Beyond this, not only do the brain and testes make other things – which some other tissues do – they also need to send these things out into the body to fuse with other things, like a new university student making their way out into the world, just trying to find the right degree to fuse with. This is a process known as exocytosis, a much rarer process in our tissues that takes a lot of energy and some very specific proteins.
What does this all mean? Initially, the researchers were attempting to find any possible physical links between physical and mental health. Looking at previous research, there have been connections found between brain disorders and sexual dysfunction, and even sperm quality and intelligence. But nothing conclusively linking the two, or any explanation as to why. So, the team suggests much more research is needed.
So not much to take away at this point, other than a super fun fact. But women, before using this information to explain why a man may act like a dick, just remember, our brains are just as similar!