Brain myths debunked!

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There are a lot of myths floating around in the world. What’s most unfortunate is how many myths have been debunked or never backed by scientists in the first place, yet these myths still persist. One troubling example is the “You use 10% of your brain” myth. NOT true, but about 65% of Americans still think it is true, according to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. That’s 5% more than those who believe in evolution.

If you think about it, I mean really think about it, the idea you use only 10% of your brain is absurd. Your brain is made up of a whole heap neurons and glia that constantly work together. Sure, maybe you use more of a certain part of your brain for a certain task, but during that task you’re still using several parts of your brain. This is held true by brain imaging technology.
Does anyone know where this myth actually came from? I did a quick Google search, and found the website They say the origin of the myth is likely to have come up as early as the 1900’s from many not understanding or misinterpreting neurological research.

William James, a psychologist and philosopher, is also a probable blame for the myth from his writings of his 1908 book, The Energies of Men, “We are making use of only a small part of our possible mental and physical resources.”

Just like the myth of a person being either right or left-brained dominant either by how logical or creative they are. According to livescience, scientists never actually supported this theory. While certain parts of the brain will light up more with a particular function, all in all it takes both sides of the brain to do the task.

To get a better idea, Kara D. Federmeier, a leading cognitive neuroscientist did an interview on NPR not too long ago about this exact myth.

She gives an example of this by using math. 

“Research shows that, overall, the abilities that make up math skills arise from processing that takes place in BOTH hemispheres (especially the brain area in each hemisphere that is known as the intraparietal sulcus) and that damage to either hemisphere can cause difficulties with math.”

This myth is likely to have arisen, according to the website livescience, by the Nobel Prize-winning research of Roger Sperry, done in the 1960’s. Sperry studied patients with epilepsy, who were treated with a surgical procedure that cut the brain along a structure called the corpus callosum. The corpus callosum connects the two hemispheres of the brain. When this is severed the patient’s brain could no longer communicate from one side to the other. 

These are just two of the many myths that still float around the internet and real world. Some of these myths, like the 10% brain myth have even been debunked by Mythbusters, yet even those who viewed the show still held onto the myth. There’s no stopping the human need to be right. Maybe that’s why I like to write these articles so much.

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