Brain Myth – Enlightening

Your brain “lights up” . . . not

Areas of your brain don’t “light up” or suddenly become active in response to events in the world. “This is an incorrect view of brain activity that dates back to a 1952 study of  a piece of a brain cell from a dead giant squid!”

The giant squid specimen preserved in a block of ice at the Melbourne Aquarium

No human brain cell is ever dormant or switched off. Your whole brain is active all the time. Particular neurons may fire at faster and slower rates, but they’re always in a flurry of activity, dashing off thousands of predictions of what you might encounter next and preparing your body to deal with it. This constant storm of predictions, which scientists call intrinsic brain activity, ultimately produces everything you think, feel, or perceive.”

Lisa Feldman Barrett, PhD, is a University Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Northeastern University, with appointments at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in Psychiatry and Radiology. She received an NIH Director’s Pioneer Award for her research on emotion in the brain, and most recently the 2018 APS Mentor Award For Lifetime Achievement. “How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain” is her first book.

March 12-18, 2018 is Brain Awareness Week (BAW) is a nationwide effort organized by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives and the Society for Neuroscience to promote the public and personal benefits of brain research. 

http://www.dana.org/BAW/

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Brain Myth – 100% Psycho Fact

We use only 10 percent of our brains . . . not

This has been repeated in pop culture for a century, implying that we have huge reserves of untapped mental powers. “But the supposedly unused 90 percent of the brain is not some vestigial appendix. Brains are expensive—it takes a lot of energy to build brains during fetal and childhood development and maintain them in adults. Evolutionarily, it would make no sense to carry around surplus brain tissue.”

Bird Brain by Peggy

1) “Brain imaging research techniques such as PET scans (positron emission tomography) and fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) clearly show that the vast majority of the brain does not lie fallow. Indeed, although certain minor functions may use only a small part of the brain at one time, any sufficiently complex set of activities or thought patterns will indeed use many parts of the brain. Just as people don’t use all of their muscle groups at one time, they also don’t use all of their brain at once.”

2) “The myth presupposes an extreme localization of functions in the brain. If the “used” or “necessary” parts of the brain were scattered all around the organ, that would imply that much of the brain is in fact necessary. But the myth implies that the “used” part of the brain is a discrete area, and the “unused” part is like an appendix or tonsil, taking up space but essentially unnecessary. But if all those parts of the brain are unused, removal or damage to the “unused” part of the brain should be minor or unnoticed. Yet people who have suffered head trauma, a stroke, or other brain injury are frequently severely impaired. Have you ever heard a doctor say, “. . . But luckily when that bullet entered his skull, it only damaged the 90 percent of his brain he didn’t use”?”

Psycho-fact

Regardless of the exact version heard, the myth is spread and repeated, by both the well-meaning and the deliberately deceptive. The belief that remains, then, is what Robert J. Samuelson termed a “psycho-fact, [a] belief that, though not supported by hard evidence, is taken as real because its constant repetition changes the way we experience life.”

Sources: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/top-ten-myths-about-the-brain-178357288/

Do We Only Use Ten Percent of our Brains?

March 12-18, 2018 is Brain Awareness Week (BAW) is a nationwide effort organized by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives and the Society for Neuroscience to promote the public and personal benefits of brain research. 

http://www.dana.org/BAW/

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