Demystifying the myths about our brains - a summary

Non-science & Non-sense

As a student of neuroscience in ultra-learning mode, I get fascinated by how neuroscience becomes nonsense when it loses neurosense.

Neuromyths are a classical example of that category.

Neuromyth: A commonly-held false belief about how the mind and brain functions.

The term “neuromyths” was first coined by an OECD report on understanding the brain. The term refers to the translation of scientific findings into misinformation regarding education. Once these myths take hold in the public consciousness, it's often difficult for people to separate brain facts from fiction.

The danger of a myth is when a dash of belief is added, it tends to become true in our minds. There are a number of myths floating around about the brain. It was believed to be true earlier but as the field matures, we are debunking one after the other with evidences.

Classic Neuromyths

Some common neuromyths we have discussed in this mini series are

Myth # 1 : Some of us are creative (right brained) and some of us are analytical (left brained). The truth is we have a whole brain.

Myth # 2: We only use 10% of our brains. The truth is our brains are utilised 100% at all times for a healthy living.

Myth # 3: Brain development has finished by the time children reach puberty. The truth is our brains continues its development well into adulthood as well.

Myth # 4: We have a unique learning style. The truth is we learn many ways and there is no specific style.

Myth # 5: Intelligence is fixed. The truth is it is not.

If you assumed one or two of the above myths are true, you are not alone. Studies found that some “classic” neuromyths are clustered together in the public consciousness.

There are more myths in the genre like we add more new cells when we learn (Synaptogenesis theory), people who are dyslexic see letters backwards, when we sleep our brains also sleep, some people are great at multitasking, mozart effect helps children in learning and more.

Why bother and how to take advantage?

I am particularly interested in these neuromyths and their harmful effects because as a hyper-learner I am concerned about anything that comes in between our learning. As such learning is hard and beliefs like above can hinder effective learning. Ideas like multitasking, perfection - procrastination, learning hard, listening to music and learning could be avoided with awareness of the myths.

10 key techniques to help you learn most effectively from learning how to learn include:

  1. Eustress (a little challenge) helps in learning. Mild(boring) and extreme stress(distress) are detrimental.
  2. Deliberate practice and action takes you much farther in learning than any other technique out there.
  3. Spaced learning instead of cramming it all in one sitting and interleaving helps immensely.
  4. Visualisation and externalisation helps your brain to learn better.
  5. Good sleep and movement are learning boosters.
  6. Nutritious food helps your brain learn better.
  7. Reflective learning aka active learning (reading, writing/note taking, listening, reflecting/journalling, teaching someone else) engages your brain in ways unimaginable.
  8. Visuals are great for promoting learning.
  9. Metaphors and analogy helps in remembering things better.
  10. Knowing how your brain works helps you emphasise how the organ works and how learning works.

Learning is all about accurating the mental models in us. The neuromyths hinder this ability and hence it is important to debunk these myths so you could learn better and believe in your brain more.

🥂 to the learning machine in us !

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