Eight myths about the brain

  1. atyy

    atyy 10,382
    Science Advisor

    Some may find this interesting:
    Myth: You only use 10 percent of your brain.
    Myth: Listening to classical music makes you smarter.
    Myth: Vaccines cause autism.
    Myth: Brain damage is always permanent.
    Myth: Your brain can’t make new cells.
    Myth: Drinking alcoholic drinks always kills brain cells.
    Myth: Drug use makes holes in your brain.
    Myth: Playing games keeps your brain young.

    I personally found the last myth the most interesting. They say
    "Truth: Crossword puzzles and similar games can help you learn words and improve specific skills, but they won’t enhance overall brain function. If you want to preserve your mental abilities, exercise your body. A healthy diet and regular exercise can help maintain memory and general cognition, particularly later in life. Starting habits that promote healthy cognitive aging early in life can preserve brain function during aging. Studies show that foods rich in nutrients and antioxidants appear to reduce the risks of age-related impairment. Aerobic exercise increases blood flow to the brain, and even lessens the rate of tissue loss during aging."
  2. jcsd
  3. Ryan_m_b

    Staff: Mentor

    None of those surprise me except the forth, that surely depends on the type of brain damage?

    As for the last one I'm not even sure what "young" means in this context, senescence is senescence! Though the fad in recent years of brain training games always strikes me as both unethical and effective advertising. Stick a Doctor on the cover then give people gradually improving and flattering results for their scores and you'll sell millions.
  4. atyy

    atyy 10,382
    Science Advisor

    I remember seeing something about a study of nuns some years back. I don't remember what the conclusions from that study was though.

    Maybe this? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nun_Study
  5. Ryan_m_b

    Staff: Mentor

    Interesting contribution :tongue2: You mean for "brain training" games?
  6. atyy

    atyy 10,382
    Science Advisor

    Actually, I'm not familiar with the detailed claims of those games, although I know they exist. I just know of pianists and mathematicians that continue well into old age, and wondered whether that had anything to do with their professions.
  7. Listening to classical music probably makes you calmer, similar to meditation .

    Like ryan said, actually depends on the type and extent of damage. But recovery can be there.Take the recent example of senator who was shot in the head.

    Drinking definitely affects the brain and the liver and many more.Of course depends on the amount and the number of years as stated in the article.
  8. Ryan_m_b

    Staff: Mentor

    Many of them claim to improve things such as memory, spatial awareness and the "age" of a brain. They do this by having games based around such things (for example remember the order of coloured flashes then type it back in). The user get's better at the game because they have played it over and over, each time the game tells them their brain age is decreasing and their IQ increasing. It's rubbish, there have never been any studies to show that playing such games boosts your intelligence and brain age isn't even a valid measure.
  9. atyy

    atyy 10,382
    Science Advisor

    Ok, I'm switching to Cenegenics (instead of stimulating my mind on PF;)
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2011
  10. well, if your testosterone is low, supplementing might actually increase your spatial ability. and also be stimulating in other ways, such as alleviating depression. i really can't fault guys at all for going the HRT route when they hit manopause.
  11. There are many more myths available every person have it's own thinking behind the brain.
  12. I happened across a game called Dual N Back a while ago that was said to increase fluid intelligence in test subjects who played for 20 days. The title describes the game: dual for 2 stimuli, N back is the number of rounds beofre the current one.

    The game is set up like a memory game where participants need to memorize the location of a square in a griid as well as a random [audio] letter each round. the next round they are given new stimuli and must decide whether they match their prievious audio or visual cues.

    game link:

    link to the relevant study:
  13. Pythagorean

    Pythagorean 4,609
    Gold Member

    Marijuana kills brain cells. Especially if you don't let the monkey get any oxygen!
  14. How about this:

    Myth 9: The brain is a blank slate and all human behavior is learned.

  15. Pythagorean

    Pythagorean 4,609
    Gold Member

    CJames, that was Skinner's view, a predominately behavioral view.

    The new view that replaces it is ethology. That we can influence a biological system by stimulus somewhat, but it will always be confined within the scope of it's internal dynamics (i.e. genetics/biology).

    One thing that's largely glossed over Skinner's view that's not missed in ethological pursuits is the developmental picture. Two fetal biological systems that share exactly the same state in the beginning (say, twins, ignoring random mutations) can develop into very different newborns based simply on the way each twin is connected to their mother's placenta, and how nutrition is distributed between the two twins. We are not starting with two blank slates when they are born.

    Of course, this isn't meant to trivialize the role of society in shaping human behavior. Society has a lot of influence... it's just not always an intended result.
  16. Yes, this is what I was getting at, although that's interesting about what's happening in the placenta and how much of an effect it has.
  17. Ryan_m_b

    Staff: Mentor

    It will be a long time before we can characterise things like how the developmental processes affect the connectome and how this maps to personality.
  18. Pythagorean

    Pythagorean 4,609
    Gold Member

    Yeah, so far all they measure is the degree of difference between monochoriotic and dichoriotic monozygotic twins with personality and intellectual ability tests. Some tests measure a higher degree of difference in the dichoriotic tests.

    Intrapair differences in personality and cognitive ability among young monozygotic twins distinguished by chroion type


    Heritability Estimates of Intelligence in Twins:
    Effect of Chorion Type

  19. Since the discussion is about the brain, here’s three snippets from ZERO TO THREE from the National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families:

    1. The human brain begins forming very early in prenatal life (just three weeks after conception), but in many ways, brain development is a lifelong project. That is because the same events that shape the brain during development are also responsible for storing information—new skills and memories—throughout life. The major difference between brain development in a child versus learning an adult is a matter of degree: the brain is far more impressionable (neuroscientists use the term plastic) in early life than in maturity. This plasticity has both a positive and a negative side. On the positive side, it means that young children's brains are more open to learning and enriching influences. On the negative side, it also means that young children's brains are more vulnerable to developmental problems should their environment prove especially impoverished or un-nurturing.

    2. Genes and environment interact at every step of brain development, but they play very different roles. Generally speaking, genes are responsible for the basic wiring plan—for forming all of the cells (neurons) and general connections between different brain regions--while experience is responsible for fine-tuning those connections, helping each child adapt to the particular environment (geographical, cultural, family, school, peer-group) to which he belongs. An analogy that is often used is wiring a phone network: genes would specify the number of phones and the major trunk lines that connect one relay station to the next. Experience would specify the finer branches of this network-the connections between the relay station and each person's home or office.

    For example, each of us is born with the potential to learn language. Our brains are programmed to recognize human speech, to discriminate subtle differences between individual speech sounds, to put words and meaning together, and to pick up the grammatical rules for ordering words in sentences. However, the particular language each child masters, the size of his vocabulary, and the exact dialect and accent with which he speaks are determined by the social environment in which he is raised--that is, the thousands of hours he has spent (beginning even before birth) listening and speaking to others. Genetic potential is necessary, but DNA alone cannot teach a child to talk.

    3. While babies come into the world with some very useful survival reflexes, they are still strikingly helpless, in large part because the cerebral cortex is still quite immature. As the highest, most recently evolved part of the brain, the cerebral cortex is responsible for all of our conscious thoughts, feelings, memories, and voluntary actions.

    Although all of the neurons in the cortex are produced before birth, they are poorly connected. In contrast to the brain stem and spinal cord, the cerebral cortex produces most of its synaptic connections after birth, in a massive burst of synapse formation known as the exuberant period. At its peak, the cerebral cortex creates an astonishing two million new synapses every second. With these new connections come a baby's many mental milestones, such as color vision, a pincer grasp, or a strong attachment to his parents.
  20. Pythagorean

    Pythagorean 4,609
    Gold Member

    it's crazy watching a newborn go from a bundle of reflexes to a half-cogniscient being.
  21. Cell Biology on June 9, 2011 had a great article:

    Also found here: http://www.cell.com/current-biology/abstract/S0960-9822(11)00654-3

    Mentioned here too:
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