The human brain is a wonder of an organ. There is still surprisingly little that we know about what the brain is capable of. We know that it is where our emotional responses and thought processes come from. But there is so much more to it. How can the brain read and understand the instructions on how to set up your Spectrum internet? How does it forget something that you were thinking about just minutes ago? How does it process so many stimuli at the same time?
How does it regulate our natural body processes without conscious effort? There has been a prevailing myth that the average human only uses about 10% of their brain. This blog will try to explore several similar myths and the truth behind them if any.
Do We Only Use 10% of Our Mental Capacity?
Pop culture has really entrenched this myth in our brains. In fact, the vast majority of Americans still believe this to be true. Nobody’s sure where this myth comes from, with many mistakenly attributing it to Albert Einstein. But the fact remains, it has no basis in scientific fact. But it is easy to see how people can accept this belief. Modern science has shown us that certain parts of the brain see more intense activity than others. But that doesn’t mean the rest of your brain is lying dormant. In fact, MRI scans have often shown that most humans use nearly all parts of their brains during a single day.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t damage and reduce your mental capacity, through the use of substances like prescription medication or abuse. Conversely, you can also take several steps to boost your brain health, ensuring your capacity stays intact or even improves. Here are a few things you can look into:
Balanced Dietary Habits
It seems that nearly every health blog preaches the health benefits to the body of eating a healthy diet. But fewer people understand how certain health foods can actually boost brain health. Foods like olive oil, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids can help protect your brain from diseases like dementia or even Alzheimer’s disease, especially if you have a family history. A healthy diet can preserve your mental capacity for longer as your body ages.
Regular Physical Exercise
You may have heard the saying “a healthy body means a healthy mind”. There is actually scientific evidence to back it. You might think lifting weights or doing a lot of cardio is just for your body’s benefit. But it actually has a very positive impact on the mind as well. Regular physical activity releases endorphins in your body, also known as the feel-good hormone. Endorphins are great for regulating moods, managing stress, and of course, your mental well-being while you give your body a healthy workout.
Challenging Mental Exercises
Just like your body needs exercise for you to remain fit and in shape, so does your brain. Too many people overlook the efficacy of simple but challenging brain exercises. For example, the crossword puzzle in your local newspaper is a great way to stimulate brain activity. The more you put your brain through problems, the better your cognitive and reasoning ability gets. This will help you train your mind to be more agile and responsive as problems that require quick thinking arise.
Do Wrinkles on the Brain Indicate More Learning?
Contrary to what you might have known, the human brain has a very distinctive appearance from most other brains in the animal kingdom. Most animals have smooth, wrinkle-free brains. However, certain animals with a proven ability to learn, such as dolphins, chimpanzees, and even pigs, have brains that are similar to the human brain in appearance. This is possibly why it is so widely believed that learning impacts the brain by adding a new wrinkle to it.
Of course, the truth is very different. The wrinkles on the human brain are not the result of a lifetime of learning. In fact, they begin to develop before we are even born. The wrinkles continue to develop until you reach about 18 months of age. Of course, these wrinkles have a distinct function, which is to hold more gray matter and improve cognitive ability. While human brains differ in appearance from each other, they do follow the same pattern. The absence of certain wrinkles often indicates brain dysfunction.
Does Our Brain Pick Up on Subliminal Messages?
This one is part true/part myth. The brain has been shown to have a limited response to subliminal messages, such as triggering an emotional response, improve physical performance and endurance, and even offer motivation. So yes, the brain does react to certain subliminal stimuli.
However, simply because the brain responds to subliminal messages does not mean it can decrypt them. What that means is you likely don’t learn anything new from a subliminal input. It simply triggers a response if the conditions are right. That is why you can’t actually learn a foreign language by playing a recording while sleeping. The brain just isn’t wired that way.
Is the Left-Brain/Right-Brain Theory Valid?
Yes, the brain is divided into two hemispheres, left and right. Each hemisphere is responsible for specific body functions, as well as movement on the opposite side of the body. We do know that the left side is the verbal part of our brain. It absorbs tiny details, sorts through them, and draws an analysis. The left side of our brain makes things like calculating, reading, and writing possible. It is often considered the part of the brain that human logic and reasoning comes from.
Similarly, the right brain has functions as well, but they are thought to be different. Instead of verbal inputs, the right side of the brain uses visual stimuli. Instead of building a big picture from small details, it takes in the big picture and breaks it into tiny details. This prompts many to suggest this side of the brain is responsible for our artistic and creative capabilities.
However, when people say “I’m a left-brained individual” or “I’m right-brained”, they’re just echoing a popular theory with no factual evidence. A comprehensive study spanning two years found no evidence to support the left-brained/right-brained theory. There is no evidence to suggest certain people favor a specific hemisphere. It is also very unlikely that the neural activity on one side of your brain is higher than the other. In essence, science still believes that both the left hemisphere and the right hemisphere work together. Yes, they have distinct functions, such as helping you remember the Spectrum customer care phone number or picking up the phone to dial. But there is no evidence to suggest one side can be stronger or more dominant than the other.