While we still don't understand everything there is to know about the workings of the brain, we have a better grasp on how the important organ functions today than even in the recent past.
However, it takes time for the latest scientific findings from the field of neuroscience to trickle down and began to flow into the river of common knowledge among not just the general public, but even educators and people with some previous neuroscience training.
A recent study published in Frontiers in Psychology found that common misconceptions about brain research, called neuromyths, are extremely common. A team of researchers surveyed people with different backgrounds and found the public believed 68 percent of the neuromyths, educators endorsed 56 percent, and even those with neuroscience training still thought 46 percent of the myths were true.
"We were surprised at the level of neuromyth endorsement from respondents with neuroscience experience," says Lauren McGrath, an Assistant Professor at the University of Denver who led the research study.
McGrath says they are considering creating an online training program designed specifically to dispel such myths.
But we could get started with that process right now. Below are eighteen statements from the survey used in the research that are considered neuromyths. In other words, all of the statements that follow are false. See how many you thought to be true:
- When we sleep, the brain shuts down.
- Listening to classical music increases children's reasoning ability.
- It is best for children to learn their native language before a second language is learned.
- If students do not drink sufficient amounts of water, their brains will shrink.
- We only use 10 percent of our brains.
- Some of us are 'left-brained' and some of are 'right-brained' and this helps explain differences in how we learn.
- Brain development has finished by the time children reach puberty.
- There are specific periods in childhood after which certain things can no longer be learned.
- Learning is due to the addition of new cells to the brain.
- Individuals learn better when they receive information in their preferred learning style (e.g., auditory, visual, kinesthetic).
- A common sign of dyslexia is seeing letters backwards.
- Mental capacity is genetic and cannot be changed by the environment or experience.
- Children must be exposed to an enriched environment from birth to three years or they will lose learning capacities permanently.
- Children are less attentive after consuming sugary drinks and/or snacks.
- Exercises that rehearse coordination of motor-perception skills can improve literacy skills.
- Children have learning styles that are dominated by particular senses (i.e. seeing, hearing, touch).
- Learning problems associated with developmental differences in brain function cannot be improved by education.
- Short bouts of motor coordination exercises can improve integration of left and right hemisphere brain function.