17 Mar Your brain is way better than you think – 5 brain myths dispelled

Learn, unlearn, relearn: 5 myths about the brain dispelledLearn, unlearn, relearn: myths about your brain. Image: Giulia Forsythe,, edited by Melanie Korpelshoek

Your brain: it’s getting a bad rap! Because it’s so important and at the same time so mysterious, all sorts of myths about the brain have emerged. And mostly ones that highly underestimate it. So let’s take a look at these myths, and try to improve your brain’s reputation!

1. You use only 10% of your brain capacity

If 90% of your brain was useless, evolution would have done something about it. Luckily you do a lot better. But you don’t use your brain’s full capacity all at the same time. For example, talking requires other brain parts to be active than drawing. But although you use some brain areas more often, it doesn’t mean you don’t use the other areas at all. Your brain deserves more credit!

2. Your brain size indicates your intelligence

Having a bigger brain does not mean you are more intelligent (I’m sorry for the people with large heads!). A whale for instance, has a much bigger and heavier brain than you, but it can’t do math. Although Albert Einstein had an enormous head when he was born, don’t judge your professor’s intelligence on the size of his head! It is still unclear exactly which brain properties are related to intelligence, but neuroscientists now think the amount and type of neurons and the connections between them are important factors.

3. Your brain can’t generate new brain cells

Oh yes it can! Although your brain and its functions deteriorate as you get older, it can produce new brain cells, or repair damaged areas. And on top of that, you can improve your brain’s functions by ‘training’ your brain, to strengthen and amplify the connections between your brain cells. Do you want to impress your friends on the next IQ test? Practice makes perfect!

4. Your brain is at rest when you sleep

Another myth. Sleep is important for your brain, but it remains active while you sleep. For example, when you sleep your brain organises information and stores it into your long term memory, and it generates and repairs its own cells. So to improve your studying, make sure you get enough sleep!

5. You have one dominant brain hemisphere

This is a popular one. You can take all sorts of tests on the Internet to check if you are a more creative/right brain sided or a more logical/left brain sided person. But although various brain functions are mainly located in one half of the brain, for most activities you need an interaction between your left and right brain hemisphere. And so far it has not been proven that if for example you’re very creative, your right hemisphere is more dominant overall. So, if you’re going for a very specialised profession, you’d better make both sides of your brain work.

Now with these misunderstandings cleared up, your brain seems even more impressive, doesn’t it? Do you know any other brain myth that needs to be dispelled?


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WTF melanie

WTF melanie

Inquisitive, enthusiastic but a little reserved as well, conscientious, empathic, loves dancing and yoga, is fascinated by the functioning of the brain and mind and the resulting behaviour
WTF melanie

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