August 2014
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Brain

I have always been fascinated by how the brain works, especially as it relates to consciousness, thought and spiritual evolution.  So,  5 Brain Myths That Won’t Go Away, authored by Ryan Wallace snagged my attention.

The brain is the most complex organ in the body.  The largest part of the human brain, the cerebral cortex, typically contains 15-33 billion neurons, all connected by and communicating with each other through synapses.  This amazing structure is control central of the entire body and all of its functions.

Throughout history the brain and the mind were considered separate.  Contemporary neuroscience still struggles to understand consciousness and thought.  Much about how the brain functions in these areas remains a mystery.

The five myths outlined below stem from the work of Amy Shelton, Associate Professor, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Johns Hopkins University.

Myth:  You only use 10% of your brain.

Shelton states that, “Any part of your brain that isn’t used will wither and die.”  90% of our brain is not on hold.

Myth: You are either right-or left-brained dominant.

This myth is rooted in scientific data demonstrating that certain areas and sides of the brain control specific functions.  Pop-psychology exploited this information into the myth that we are all divided into two camps: right-brained dominant, creative, or left-brained dominant, logical.  Extensive research and thousands of brain scans prove we use both sides of our brain equally.

Myth: Alcohol kills brain cells.

Biochemist researcher, Roberta Pentney, long ago disproved this myth.  It is true that ethyl alcohol will kill brain cells on contact, but it is so diluted in alcoholic beverages that our bodies process it (mostly the liver) before it gets to our brain cells.  The ‘buzz’ we get from alcohol arises from the effect on neural communication, a temporary circumstance,  without permanent damage when approached with moderate consumption.

Myth: Brain damage is permanent.

Obviously some brain damage is permanent to varying degrees.  Successful repair of brain damage depends on the location and severity of the injury.  It was once believed that we were born with all the brain cells we would ever have.  Research now demonstrates that through the process of “neurogenesis,”  the brain can not only regenerate cells, but reroute them around damaged neurons.

Myth: Your IQ is a fixed number.

IQ, or Intelligence Quotient, is a test score determining how smart you are.  What makes people smart is open to debate. Genetics, environment, and learning opportunity all have a part in  IQ development.  It has been demonstrated that cognitive training can improve IQ scores.

For a fascinating and engaging glimpse into how our brains function, check out “Brain Games,” hosted by Jason Silva, on the Nat Geo Channel.  It can also be viewed on-line by typing ‘watch Brain Games online’ into your search bar.  Want to know more about how your brain works?  I invite you to check out this fun and insightful program.

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