You use way more than 10 percent of your brain
ESB Professional/Shutterstock When it comes to commonly repeated myths, the idea that you only use 10 percent of your brain is right up there. One survey found that half of college-educated people believe it to be true—but it’s not. “We use every part of the brain,” says Rawan Tarawneh, MD, an assistant professor of neurology in the division of cognitive neurology at The Ohio State University. “While brain regions are not necessarily all active at the same time, all brain regions are utilized to some extent over the day, depending on what we are doing—for example, reading, trying to solve a math problem, driving, talking on the phone, or sleeping.” Don’t miss these other 51 favorite “facts” that are actually false.
No one is either “left-brained” or “right-brained”
mountaira/Shutterstock Even though we are right- or left-handed, it doesn’t mean we are right- or left-brained. The myth of having a dominant brain hemisphere may have come from experiments performed in the 1960s on people who’d had the connections (the “corpus callosum”) between their two halves severed. But most of us have brains that aren’t split in two, and thus function as one. “Research shows that almost all brain functions require the interaction of both hemispheres for these functions to be carried out accurately,” Dr. Tarawneh says. Each half may perform separate functions within a task—our ability to express and understand language happens in the left hemisphere, but other aspects of language processing, such as intonations, rhythm and stress of words, occurs in the right—but this is true for everyone, she notes. Learn the real reason people are right- and left-handed.
Men and women don’t learn differently
Bobex-73/Shutterstock There are many differences between men and women, but it doesn’t mean that the sexes aren’t equal in their learning capabilities. “On average, men have larger brain volumes than women, while women have thicker cortices than men,” Dr. Tarawneh says. “The differences are not just anatomical—men’s and women’s brains seem to be wired differently to some extent.” She points to research by Diane Halpern, PhD, who found that women do better with verbal and writing ability, and men better with problem-solving and visuospatial skills. But, there may be a social component to this, and other research has shown both sexes performing equally in mathematics. “Men’s and women’s brains are more alike than they are different, and there is a lot of variability between individuals of the same gender,” Dr. Tarawneh says. Don’t miss these other 17 science myths that have been proven wrong.