Here are five commonly held myths, and the buster to add, about the brain.
Five commonly held notions about our most complex organ: 1. We only use 10 per cent of our brain. False: This statistic is bandied around as fact, partly because it supports the psychic/paranormal agenda. Harnessing more of our brain, say folk such as spoon bender Uri Geller, would give us superior mental agility and enable us to perform super-human feats with our minds. Interestingly, the 10-per-cent myth was debunked once and for all by one of B.C.’s best brains, the late Barry Beyerstein, an SFU psychology professor and renowned international skeptic. 2. You can’t change your brain. False: Research shows that the hippocampus, the area responsible for forming memories, is capable of growing new neurons later in life. We can make our brains work better by accumulating more knowledge, which builds more connection networks. Plus, the wisdom we acquire as we age can compensate for some of the gradual decline. We also know that exercise and cognitive activity can keep our brains healthy and help stave off dementia. 3. Memory decline is inevitable as we age. False: Experts say our brains are just as capable of learning in the second half of life as in the first. This is great news for nervous boomers who fear they are losing the plot; not only can we continue to learn as we age, we also acquire wisdom. And that makes us highly marketable. 4. Men’s brains are bigger. TRUE: But size isn’t everything. Women have more grey matter in certain parts of their brains and more intricate and extensive links between brain cells than men, particularly in the frontal cortex. This is the area involved in judgment and decision making, the “executive centre” of the brain. In fact, smaller brains may be more efficient. Most scientists believe there’s no real difference between men and women when it comes to total intelligence, but there is growing evidence that their brains are wired differently. This theory may explain the finding that, on average, women are better at empathizing and men are better at systemizing. It seems evolution has created two different types of brains designed for equally intelligent behaviour. 5. Music is good for your brain. TRUE: When your parents pressured you into those music lessons, it did make you smarter. According to a University of Toronto study, children’s IQ scores increase an average of one point for every six months of lessons. Related Stories: No Brainer by Vicki O'Brien. Ensuring Mental Health by Vicki O'Brien. Brain Boosters - Test Your Mental Agility