Awareness Education Research

What Are The Popular Myths About The Brain?

The Brain is one of the vital organs for living organisms. Both the brain and the spinal cord are composed of neurons and glial cells that control the life sustaining functions of the body as well as all thought, emotion, and behavior. The brain is the core of the nervous system; the part that makes sense of the information received from the senses, makes decisions, and sends commands out to the muscles and the rest of the body, if needed. Many different areas of the brain are involved in preparing us for an appropriate response to the information received, and the brain is responsible for cognition and thoughts, including learning memory, and language. Human brain is relatively more complex than others; this is the reason why humans are the smartest organisms on Earth. Human brain weighs about 3 pounds or 3lbs which is around 2% of the total body weight. Humans have the biggest brain relative to the size of their body in all animal kingdoms. In brief, we can say humans have the largest brain to body ratio.

A research conducted on human brain suggests that it consumes about 25% of the body’s oxygen supply, in short we can say out of 4 breaths, 1 whole breath Oxygen is utilized by brain for normal functioning, moreover it also consumes about 25% of body nutrients and around 70% of body glucose supply to fulfil its energy demands to sustain its functionality. Unfortunately, we humans have some wrong ideas or misconceptions about the brain due to which there are a lot of myths residing in our society regarding the human mind, mainly fictional movies and stories are responsible for arising such myths among people.

#Myth 1- Brain size determines the intelligence of an organism.

Many individuals believe that humans are intelligent because they have large brains. They believe that bigger the brain size, smarter the organism.

Fact- Some studies actually support this claim but in reality this claim is not totally true and it is considered a debatable and controversial claim. This claim can be rejected by the following example; Whales and elephants have larger brain size than humans and moreover, we have almost the same brain to body ratio as mice. Still we have better cognitive abilities than these organisms. A recent research suggests that intelligence and cognitive abilities of organisms mainly depend upon the complexity of neural connections and their cellular network. Therefore, having a big brain is somewhat predictive of being big smart but intelligence probably depends upon how efficiently and effectively different parts of the brain communicate with each other. In brief, brain size is not a sole factor determining intelligence, it is one of the factors which may contribute in determining intelligence of an organism because we can say bigger the size more the brain matter but how dense and complex is it, is the real question.

#Myth 2- We use just 10% of our brain

We all have heard this myth more than once in our life, movies like ‘Lucy’ and ‘Limitless’ are mainly responsible for making this myth extremely popular. Such movies imply that the brain is capable of much greater things like telekinesis or having psychic abilities etc.

Fact- If this myth would be true then we would have to worry only about this 10% portion of the total brain and brain injuries wouldn’t be a much greater issue. But in reality, a minor injury to the brain can have severe consequences and can impair body functioning. We all use our 100% of the brain each and every time although for different activities, different parts are involved but still almost entire brain show signs of activity and moreover brain imaging techniques have proved that the entire brain shows levels of activity even during the time of sleep. Therefore, each and every part of the brain is extremely vital and necessary, if not it would have been removed during the process of evolution.

#Myth 3- People are either right brained or left brained.

Earlier some people used to believe that the left and right brain are different from one another such that one dominates the other example if a person is creative then he is labelled as right brained and if he is more of a technical person, he is left brained.

Fact- Such beliefs are totally false, unless one is a split brain patient. There is no evidence to support this idea of one part dominating the other. It is true certain types of tasks and thinking is associated with the certain region of the brain, but in spite of this lateralization and differences, no one is fully right and left brained. Both these parts facilitate each other for the proper functioning of the organism. In fact, these two sides of the brain always work together as an integrated whole. For example, the right side might recognize someone’s face and the left side might recall its name. Thus, people aren’t really right or left brained; they are ”whole brained”.

#Myth 4- Brain damage is permanent

Earlier many researchers and scientists used to believe that once the brain is damaged, it can’t be fixed. Brain is indeed very fragile and can be damaged by an injury, stroke or some disease. Such Brain damage can be very devastating and can have serious consequences but the question is it always permanent?

Fact- Studies suggest that Brain has the capability to repair or compensate some losses; it regenerates new cells or changes the functioning of some cells in order to minimize and recover from the loss. Brain has an ability called neural plasticity which remains plastic throughout life and it facilitates the brain to rewire itself in times of distress. Brain requires significant time to recover mainly depending upon the severity and location of the injury. Example, a blow to the head during a cricket match can have a concussion which may result in serious head injury but when a person is given time to heal, he might recover in some time but on the other hand a severe stroke, may have horrible consequences on the functioning of the brain whose effects can be permanent, this is because stroke mainly lead to deprivation of blood to brain cells and in absence of oxygen they starve to death and such severe cases have least chances of recovery.

#Myth 5- Headaches are caused in the brain

Many People believe headaches are caused in the brain due to swelling of blood vessels present inside the brain.

Fact- This is totally false because there are no pain receptors in the brain. Headaches are generally caused due to swelling or tension among the nerve cells or blood vessels surrounding the skull or the muscles of your head and neck. There are pains receptors present over the covering of the brain and scalp, when they are stimulated it may give us a false sensation of pain coming from inside the head.

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