How Your Brain Works: Myths and Facts
You use 100% of your brain.
The idea that you don’t use all of your brain is a widespread myth. Brain scan studies show all areas are active. So products that claim to tap into the “rest of your brain” don’t really do anything.
20s and 30s is the age the brain usually stops developing.
There’s a reason you have to wait until age 25 to rent a car. Teens and young adults think with their amygdala, the part of the brain ruled by emotion. Adults use the rational part of their brain, called the prefrontal cortex. It’s the area that makes you think about the long-term effects of certain actions.
Some people are right-brained, and others are left-brained is not true.
The way you think isn’t decided by which side of the brain you use. Both sides work together on every mental task. So it’s a myth that logical thinkers use the left sides of their brains, and emotional and creative types rely on their right.
Listening to classical music has no effect on babies.
Scientists once thought listening to Mozart bumped up students’ IQ. Based on these results, classical music CDs and DVDs for babies became popular. But recent studies show that those don’t have any real effect on intelligence.
Your brain stays busy during sleep.
While your body rests during slumber, your brain stays active. It runs many of your body’s functions, like breathing, and it sorts through the day’s information. It locks things you learn into memory. This process is called consolidation. It also clears out certain kinds of waste that may lead to dementia over time.
Adults grow about 700 new brain cells per day.
It was once thought that you were born with all your brain cells. But the truth is, there’s turnover. You do lose brain cells over time, but you also grow them. Certain habits, like exercising, can boost the number of brain cells you make. But many of these die within a week if they’re not used. That’s why engaging your brain and learning new skills can keep it healthy.
New connections form, in your brain when you learn new things.
Every time you learn something, your brain cells grow fibers. They make connections called synapses. Messages are sent from one cell to the other. These connections are fragile. They can disappear. But the more you practice a skill or discuss a topic, the thicker the connections become. That helps you remember what you’ve learned
Any age is best to learn new information.
It may seem like babies’ brains are sponges that soak up the most information. But you’re always able to learn new things. Research shows that your brain can grow and change at any age. One study found that a part of the brain called the hippocampus is larger in taxi drivers than bus drivers because they have to memorize many city streets instead of a fixed route.
50% of your intelligence is set by your genes.
Your mental capacity depends on a lot of different things. Genetics is one of them. Your home life, education, resources, and nutrition also play major roles.
Learning two languages at the same time helps to protect your brain against dementia.
Not long ago, people thought learning two languages at the same time competed for your brain’s resources. But it turns out that being bilingual can be good for your brain: One study found that people who spoke more than one language developed dementia nearly 5 years later than those who didn’t.