5 Brain Myths That Won't Go Away
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Psychologist Gary Marcus recently pointed out that scientists are not only far from a comprehensive explanation of how the brain works, they can’t even agree on the best way to study it. So it’s not surprising that myths and misinformation continue to persist —spurred on, in part, by pop culture. But why do we continue to buy into these falsehoods?
"The reason that these myths persist is because they resonate with people," Amy Shelton, PhD, director of research at Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth, told Yahoo Health. It’s true several of these myths, said Shelton, are simplified versions of complex concepts that we can often relate to on a personal level. Here are five popular myths that just won’t go away.
Myth: You only use 10 percent of your brain.
If we now only use 10 percent of our brains, imagine the limitless possibilities for the human race. Well, Hollywood did just that, and we get Lucy, the superhuman, butt-kicking heroine played by Scarlett Johansson, who mastered 100 percent of her brain. Unfortunately, the entire movie is based on one of the oldest brain myths out there.
Shelton, who teaches a class on brain myths and fold psychology, says this myth’s origins are all over the map. What’s not surprising, though, is why it’s still around. “We see it as unleashed potential,” she said. “The idea that we don’t use all of our brain fits well with the idea that we could be better and do more, and that’s encouraging.”
She added that psychologists do believe that you can make your brain more efficient and improve different cognitive skills, but it’s simply untrue that a huge portion of your brain is sitting there in the off position. “Any part of your brain that isn’t used will whither and die,” she said.
Myth: You are either right- or left-brained dominant.