“I think, therefore I am”, said Rene Descartes. We are who we are and we know how we know who we are, right? Or, maybe, we just think we know.
When it comes to science, myths and misperceptions abound, and for no topic is this more common than ourselves. So forget what you think you know about your thinker. And check out these common myths about the body part most essential to ourselves, our brain:
Myth 1: Bigger Brains are Smarter Brains
Does size matter? Apparently, not as much as you’d think when it comes to thinking. I mean, our brains are smaller than a whale’s brain or an elephant’s or a dolphin’s and we’re generally considered to be smarter than them.
It turns out that smartness is determined more by how much of the brain is for reasoning and problem solving vs other things. For example, a species with proportionally large eyes is going to need more brain for processing all that visual data and so they might have a larger brain than a species with smaller eyes. But not, necessarily, have better reasoning or cognitive abilities.
Brain sizes also tend to remain proportional to body size. So, the larger you are, the larger your brain but not always your smarts.
Myth 2: Using Only 10%
We only use about 10% of what we’ve got.
You’ve probably heard this zillion times. Well, no. Ever heard the phrase; “use it or lose it”? If we didn’t use it, we’d have lost it by now. Actually, most of our brain is under constant use just trying to keep us alive and functioning normally.
Myth 3: Using One Side More Than The Other
Some of use one side more than the other, right?
Not even close. Unless a person suffers an accident or illness that reduces or eliminates the function of an entire brain section, most of us use our whole brain equally. Sorry you creative, right-brained types or analytical, left-brainers, you’re all a bunch of whole-brained sort of people after all.
Myth 4: 100 Billion Brain Cells
We’ve got 100 billion brain cells in there and alcohol can kill them.
Well, for starters, we’ve actually got only around 86 billion. Crazy right? Not as smart as you thought right? Actually, that might be true; 14 billion is a lot.
But don’t worry; you’re not going to lose anymore just because you had a few drinks. While it is true that alcohol can interfere with the connections between brain cells, it’s nothing your amazing brain can’t fix. Just don’t overdo it.
Myth 5: Drug Use and Brain Holes
Drug use will put holes in your brain.
Nope, just like alcohol, drugs can interfere with the connections between the brain cells. They can even cause alterations in your brain’s functioning over time and habitual use.
But they are never going to put an actual hole in your brain. Leave that one to the lobotomists.
Myth 6: We have 5 Senses
We have 5 senses.
This one has got to be the most common. Remember when you were little and you were taught your five senses: sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell? And then there was the mythical sixth sense we were convinced some people had.
Well, hold on to your socks because it turns out we all have a sixth sense, and a seventh, and an eighth, and a lot. You have a sense for the passage of time, and one for balance, and one for temperature… Did you know you were so talented?
Did you know you were so talented?
It really makes you think, doesn’t it? What else might we not know that we think we know about ourselves and how would we know?
What other brain myths do you know that we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below.
Helmuth, L. (2011, May 19). Top Ten Myths About the Brain. Retrieved from http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/top-ten-myths-about-the-brain-178357288/?no-ist
5 Common Myths About the Brain. (2015, January 1). Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/5-common-myths-about-the-brain/