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Brain Myths


We only use 10% of our brain, utter nonsense.

Can I dispel a myth about the human brain? Well, there are several that I’d like to dispel: we only use 10% of our brain, utter nonsense, I’ve done several blogs about this.  If…you genuinely believe that it may be true in your case but…it’s not the case at all, it’s something that, like psychics or like magic, people like to think in order to explain things that go on.  We use all of the brain, we don’t really know what we use all of it for or how it does the stuff it does, but we do use all of it, it’s a massive energy-intensive and resource-hungry organ.  To use only 10% of the brain given how much evolutionary effort has gone into creating it, that would be like building a space shuttle and filling it 90% with rocks or old apple cores, it’s just like…it’s just a pointless exercise; you’ve wasted a lot of time and energy on this.  So, yes, we don’t use 10%.

And the whole left brain/right brain thing: left brain people are emotional and artistic and right brain people are analytical and nerdy and scientific, it changes depending on who you ask, but that’s a far, far, far too simple breakdown of how the brain functions and allocates resources.  It is a hemispherical divide in some cases: certain parts of the brain do certain things, but such a general personality shift dominant in people isn’t necessarily accurate at all, it’s far too simplified a view, so don’t believe that, kids. 

On the difference between female and male brains

The recent story about…a study has shown that women’s brains and men’s brains are wired differently, which apparently gives a scientific basis to all the gender stereotypes we come across. And that was obviously a very popular story and I actually had to cover it on BBC World News, and I got taken to the BBC in a taxi and the taxi driver had heard of it, which made a change from the usual football and racism conversations.  To say it’s a bad study would be unfair, it’s a clever thing, what they’ve done; they’ve utilised new methods of looking at the way the brains are connected, but the conclusions they’ve come to and presented to the media are far too extreme based on the information they provided to actually back this up.  It’s also a case of…even if what they said is true, it might be true but it doesn’t mean what they say it means.  Also, what kind of causality are we looking at: women’s brains are wired this way so this is why they behave like that, or they behave in this way because society tells them they have to and this is why their brains end up wired like that, because they do a certain action or think certain ways long enough, your brain starts to reflect changes as a result.  So, yes, it was a very media-friendly story which just allows people to the think their preconceptions are legitimate when in fact they are not.  So, yes, that was something of an issue in the neuroscience community; it wasn’t looked upon favourably, should we say.