Common Myths About The Brain Dispelled          - 7/2/2017      <--Prev : Next-->


Most of us have all seen preserved brains sitting in jars in a classroom or on TV. Often, those brains are a uniform whitish grey, sometimes yellow-ish color. However, in actuality, the living and pulsing brain that currently resides in your skull isn't just a dull, bland grey-but it's also white, black and red.
So why are preserved brains chalky looking and dull instead of spongy and colorful It's due to the fixatives, such as formaldehyde, that keep the brain preserved.


From color, to sound -- the next myth may have you rethinking your musical choices.
The idea that listening to classical music can increase your brainpower has become so popular that it's been dubbed "the Mozart effect."

This myth and trend started in the 1950s when an ENT a doctor named Albert Tomatis began claiming success using Mozart's music to help people with speech and auditory disorders. In the 1990s, 36 students in a study at the University of California at Irvine listened to 10 minutes of a Mozart sonata before taking an IQ test. According to Dr. Gordon Shaw, the psychologist in charge of the study, the students' IQ scores went up by about 8 points. The "Mozart effect" was born.

However, the University of California at Irvine study has been controversial in the scientific community. Dr. Frances Rauscher, a researcher involved in the study, stated that they never claimed it actually made anyone smarter; it just increased performance on certain spatial-temporal tasks.

What's more is that other scientists have never been able to replicate the original results, and there is currently no scientific information to prove that listening to Mozart, or any other classical music, actually makes anyone smarter.


If you need an obvious example of how untrue this myth is, think of a cow. Now think of a chimpanzee. Cows have bigger brains than chimps. Are they smarter than chimps No.

"But what about the ratio of brain to body weight ", an ardent fan of this myth might counter. Nope, that line of reasoning doesn't work either. While a human's brain-to-body-mass ratio is massive compared to that of a horse (about 1:50 and 1:600, respectively), it's just about the same as that of a mouse (1:40), and inferior to the ratio you'd find in small ants or small birds.
Sure, some skills, like our ability to think quickly and recall information (also known as fluid intelligence), follow the familiar pattern: peaking at roughly age 18 and getting worse over the rest of our lives.


But recent research suggests that - in addition to getting wiser with age - we may also actually get smarter, at least in some ways. Our ability to do basic math and use a larger vocabulary, for example, likely continue to improve until we turn 50. And our prowess at reading others' emotions and recalling recent events doesn't start declining until after age 30.


We know different drugs make us experience the world around us in very different way, but exactly how different drugs affect the brain is a pretty controversial subject. Some people claim that only the most severe drug use can have any lasting effects, while others believe that the first time you use a drug, you're causing long-term damage.

However, while many substances can have significant effects on your brain's structure and function, gaping Swiss-cheese-like holes are thankfully not one of them. In fact, the only thing that can actually put a hole in your brain is physical trauma to it.

But although the jury's still out on exactly how different drugs can affect your brain for the long term, we can be reasonably sure of one thing: No drug actually puts holes in your brain.


Just one observation of a drunken person is enough to convince you that alcohol directly affects the brain. But in actuality, alcohol consumption has very little effect on the density or number of neurons in your brain. Even in alcoholics, alcohol use doesn't actually result in the death of brain cells.

All that said, too much drinking can damage the links between neurons and the way the brain processes information. Alcohol damages the ends of neurons, which are called dendrites, and this results in problems conveying messages between the neurons. The cell itself isn't damaged, but the way that it communicates with others is altered. According to researchers, this damage is mostly reversible.

So while alcohol doesn't actually kill brain cells, it can still damage your brain if you drink in mass quantities.


We've often been told that we only use about 10 percent of our brains. And this myth is probably one of the most well-known myths about the brain, in part because it's been publicized in the media ever since the early 1900s when an American psychologist named William James said that "the average person rarely achieves but a small portion of his or her potential.' It is commonly thought that over overtime, James' statement was somehow converted into us only using 10 percent of our brain.

Event in modern time, many people are jumping on the 10%-brain-idea, writing books and selling products that claim to harness the power of the other 90%.

Here's the thing, though; it's not really true. We can become disabled from damage to just small areas of the brain depending on where it's located, so there's no way that we could function with only 10 percent of our brain in use.

MYTH THREE You're either an "auditory" or a "visual" learner.

Brain scans have shown that no matter what we're doing, our brains are always active. Some areas are more active at any one time than others, but unless we have brain damage, there is no one part of the brain that is absolutely not functioning.

So, unfortunately, there's no hidden, extra potential you can tap into, in terms of actual brain space.

This consistently reinforced idea that some of us learn better by seeing, hearing, or touching doesn't have much research to back it up.

There is evidence to suggest that many of us prefer to learn through a specific means - some of us would rather to listen to a lecture than read a book, for example - but there's no evidence to suggest that we do better when we are taught in our preferred method. When psychologists have compared students' results on tests after they've been taught using either their preferred method or another method, for example, their results are the same.

MYTH TWO - Male brains are more logical, female brains are more empathetic.

There are minor anatomical differences between male and female brains. Problem is, they haven't been linked with any particular differences in ability. Instead, most evidence suggests that these gender-based differences are the result of cultural expectations.
For example, women tend to do better than men on tests of emotional intelligence and empathy. But as Laura Helmuth at Smithsonian points out, "They do - unless test subjects are told that men are particularly good at the test, in which case men perform as well as or better than women."
The same thing can happen in reverse: A 1998 University of Waterloo study found that when women and men were given a tough math test, the women - even those with extensive math experience - did worse than the men. But if the participants were told beforehand that men and women had performed equally on the test in the past, they performed equally well.


You've probably heard plenty about the first five - touch (tactioception), hearing (audioception), sight (ophthalmoception), taste (gustaoception), and smell (olfacoception). But what about the others
These, which all include the Latin root 'cept' for take or receive, give us even more data about the outside world:
Equilibrioception: A sense of balance, otherwise known as your internal GPS. Tells you if you're sitting, standing, or lying down. Located in the inner ear.
Proprioception: A sense of where your body parts are and what they're doing.
Nociception: A sense of pain.
Thermo(re)ception: A sense of temperature.
Chronoception: A sense of the passage of time.
Interoception: A sense of your internal needs, like hunger, thirst, needing to use the bathroom, etc.

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