Debunking the famous Neuromyths

Debunking the famous Neuromyths:

– Sujan Shrestha

What is Neuromyth:

Neuromyths are are the misconceptions about the brain. They are loosely based on scientific facts but are actually false. They are staggeringly prevalent among the educators and school and appear to be true and convincing in the face value.

When I was in school many of our teachers used to show our collective inferiority by saying that we only used 10% of our brain and Einstein was the only person who used 50% of his brain.  None of us doubted this myth at that moment (in our culture we don’t doubt teachers). This myth was glued in my mind for the long time untill recently to be frank. Being a psychology student its appaling that I was shadowed in this myth for a long time. Here in this article I am trying to debunk some famous neuromyths. Ready to get surprised:

We use only 10 percent of our brain:

If you think you are an useless lot of 10% brain users then there’s a good news for your self esteem. Infact we use all of our brain. Recent neuroimaging technology has conclusively destroyed this falsehood.

People are either right-brained or left-brained:

Although certain tasks are dominated by one side of the brain, most tasks require parallel input from both hemispheres. Corpus callosum connects the both sides of the brain. Unless an entire hemisphere is completely removed or damaged, no one is considered to be fully “right” or “left” brained.


Vaccines cause autism

I remember hearing this myth while learning autism from my psychology teacher. He had said in very rare cases it was found to be so. But there has been no conclusive, scientific evidence that any part of vaccine causes autism although a link was initially suspected  by some because the first symptoms emerge around the time children receive vaccinations.

Listening to classical music makes you smarter

Listening to classical music has not been shown to improve intelligence in children or adults. However, learning how to play a musical instrument has been shown to enhance cognitive skills.

Critical period of learning:

Many of us believe  that there are critical periods of learning when certain types of learning must occur. This has a grain of truth, in that children are particularly sensitive to learning at certain periods. However, we can continue to learn, and our brains can change –so called ‘plasticity’- throughout our lives. It is widely believed that 0-3 years of a child is considered to the most critical period of overall cognitive development. It is believed that most of the neural connections (synapses) are made during this period and if the external environment is not conducive to the cognitive development of a child, it will have a lasting impact. It is definitely essential for the children to be exposed with external stimulation for the cognitive development at this point of time but to consider this period is the only window for the cognitive development is a fallacy. For example if a child is not exposed with language for the extended period of time, say 1 year, it doesn’t mean that child cannot learn the language ever but  it just makes the learning more difficult. And many of us have learnt our second language after crossing 3 years.  Remember our brain is elastic beyond the limit.

Learning styles

This is the myth which most of the teachers are susceptible to it. There’s a belief that students learn better if they are taught according to their preferred learning style: auditory, kinaesthetic or visual.  Infact, there is no neuroscientific evidence for this and no evidence that learning is improved by learning styles. This is highly appealing idea. And even educational institutions have introduced the facilities as per the students learning preference. But as appealing as it sounds the truth is there is very less convincing idea to support the idea of learning styles. Actually the most effecting way of learning is not based on our preferred learning style but on the nature of the material we’re being taught. If you’ve visual learning style try learning swimming through audio-visual media. How wil you learn French with the preferred style of kinesthetics?

With help from:

(The writer is a psychology student and the founder and chief-editor of the blog psychbigyaan)

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