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Debunking Common Myths about the Human Brain

Neuroscientists Dr. Santoshi Billakota and Dr. Brad Kamitaki debunk myths about the brain.

By ClaudiaPublished about a month ago 4 min read
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Debunking Common Myths about the Human Brain
Photo by Milad Fakurian on Unsplash

Introduction:

In the realm of neuroscience, numerous myths and misconceptions about the human brain have persisted over the years. In this article, we enlist the expertise of Dr. Santoshi Bilakota, a clinical assistant professor in neurology at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, and Dr. Brad Kamitaki, a neurologist and assistant professor at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Together, they unravel and debunk several prevailing myths, shedding light on the fascinating realities of our brain's functioning.

Size Doesn't Equal Smarts:

The prevailing notion that the larger the brain, the smarter the creature is debunked. Dr. Bilakota and Dr. Kamitaki clarify that brain size alone is not indicative of intelligence. Instead, it's the complexity and development of specific brain areas that determine cognitive capabilities. Drawing parallels with chimpanzees, who possess smaller brains than humans but comparable intelligence, emphasizes that it's the intricate structure of the brain, not its size, that matters.

Intelligence is Multifaceted:

The article challenges the common belief that intelligence can be accurately measured by IQ tests. Dr. Bilakota and Dr. Kamitaki argue that intelligence is a multifaceted concept influenced by various factors, including social and emotional intelligence. They highlight the limitations of conventional IQ tests, emphasizing that they provide only an approximation of an individual's capabilities and are influenced by external conditions.

Dispelling the 10% Brain Myth:

Contrary to the widely circulated myth that humans only use 10% of their brains, the neurologists explain that modern imaging techniques, such as PET MRI and functional MRI studies, have debunked this claim. They delve into the different brain regions and their functions, illustrating how various areas are activated during different tasks. The myth is debunked, reinforcing that we utilize most of our brain, albeit not simultaneously.

Video Games and Brain Health:

Addressing the misconception that video games rot the brain, the experts clarify that certain video games, particularly those focusing on team building, problem-solving, and strategy, can be beneficial. They stress the importance of moderation and how excessive gaming, leading to withdrawal from social activities, might raise concerns. Overall, the key is balancing screen time with other activities.

Aging and Memory:

The article refutes the notion that memory inevitably declines with age. While certain aspects of memory, such as episodic memory, may show a decline, other types of memory, like semantic memory and procedural memory, can improve with age. The neurologists highlight the importance of maintaining overall health to prevent cognitive decline, emphasizing that not everyone will experience dementia.

Left vs. Right Brain Dominance:

The longstanding belief that left-brained individuals are logical while right-brained individuals are creative is debunked. Dr. Bilakota and Dr. Kamitaki explain that brain hemispheric dominance is more about language and verbal memory than creativity or logic. The myth is dispelled, emphasizing that these traits are more related to an individual's personality and experiences rather than the dominance of a specific brain hemisphere.

Stroke Prevention is Possible:

Contrary to the belief that strokes are unavoidable, the neurologists assert that strokes can be prevented by addressing risk factors such as high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, and diabetes. They stress the importance of maintaining cardiovascular and brain health to reduce the likelihood of a stroke. The article also highlights the significance of recognizing stroke symptoms and seeking prompt medical attention.

Fish and Brain Health:

The article clarifies the misconception that eating fish makes individuals smarter. While fish, especially those rich in omega-3 fatty acids, is beneficial for overall health, it doesn't directly impact intelligence. Dr. Bilakota and Dr. Kamitaki recommend including fish as part of a balanced diet, particularly within a Mediterranean diet framework, for its positive effects on heart and brain health.

Trusting Your Senses:

The neurologists caution against blindly trusting our senses, as they can be influenced by emotions, memories, and external factors. They discuss instances where our senses can play tricks on us, leading to illusions or hallucinations. This myth highlights the subjective nature of sensory perception.

Gender and Brain Structure:

The article dispels the myth that different genders have inherently different brain structures. Dr. Bilakota and Dr. Kamitaki emphasize that everyone is born with the same brain, and structural differences arise due to individual experiences and environmental factors rather than gender identity or sexual orientation.

Seizures vs. Epilepsy:

The neurologists clarify the distinction between seizures and epilepsy, dispelling the notion that experiencing a seizure automatically means having epilepsy. They provide insights into the causes of seizures, the importance of seeking medical attention, and the necessity of consistent communication with healthcare professionals for effective management.

In conclusion, Dr. Bilakota and Dr. Kamitaki unravel the complexities of the human brain, debunking prevalent myths and offering a nuanced understanding of cognitive functioning. The article encourages readers to question commonly held beliefs, emphasizing the importance of research, education, and maintaining overall health for optimal brain function.

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