7 Myth-busted Brain “Facts” You Always Thought Were True
The brain is an incredible organ responsible for controlling our central nervous system, keeping us walking, talking, breathing and thinking. It’s also extraordinarily complex and mysterious. While researchers are still uncovering the secrets of how the brain works, they have discovered plenty of information about what goes on in your head.
Unfortunately, there are still many brain myths out there.
Myth 1: You only use 10 per cent of your brain.
Myth 4: We are born with a fixed number of brain cells.
The notion that we are born with all the brain cells we will ever have and once they die, those cells are gone forever and we never form new ones is part of that so-called traditional wisdom.
Reality check: Researchers have found that the human adult brain does indeed form new cells throughout life, even during old age. The process of forming new brain cells is known as neurogenesis and researchers have found that it happens in at least one important region of the brain called the hippocampus.
Myth 5: Drinking alcohol kills brain cells.
Partially related to the myth that we never grow new neurons is the idea that drinking alcohol can lead to cell death in the brain. Drink too much or too often, some people might warn, and you’ll lose precious brain cells that you can never get back. We’ve already learned that adults do indeed get new brain cells throughout life, but could drinking alcohol really kill brain cells?
Reality check: While excessive or chronic alcohol abuse can certainly have dire health consequences, experts do not believe that drinking causes neurons to die. In fact, scientific medical research has actually demonstrated that the moderate consumption of alcohol is associated with better cognitive (thinking and reasoning) skills and memory than is abstaining from alcohol. Moderate drinking doesn’t kill brain cells but helps the brain function better into old age.
Myth 6: There are 100 billion neurons in the brain.
You’ve probably flipped through a psychology or neuroscience textbook and seen this often-repeated figure.
Reality check: Based on research, it appears the human brain actually contains closer to 85 billion neurons. So it may not be the 100 billion neurons you’re used to seeing, but 85 billion is still better than the seven billion in the brain of a gorilla.
Myth 7: You’re either “left-brained” or “right-brained.”
I’m sure you’ve heard this before and even completed a quiz online to see what you are. This stems from the popular notion that people are either dominated by their right or left brain hemispheres. According to this idea, people who are “right-brained” tend to be more creative and expressive, while those who are “left-brained” tend to be more analytical and logical.
Reality check: While it is recognized that there is lateralization of brain function, no one is fully left-brained or right-brained. In fact, we tend to do better at tasks when the entire brain is utilized, even for things that are typically associated with a certain area of the brain. The left hemisphere specializes in picking out the sounds that form words and working out the syntax of the words, as an example, but it does not have a monopoly on language processing. The right hemisphere is actually more sensitive to the emotional features of language, tuning in to the slow rhythms of speech that carry intonation and stress.
BY: KHADIJA KHAN, THE PLAID ZEBRA