Brain Myths

When it comes to the brain, there are many “myths”, false beliefs that people hold on to that have no basis on fact.
For example, many people think that we use only a small portion of our brain, something around 10%. That belief is categorically wrong.
Research and clinical experience have shown us that our brains actually develop new pathways throughout life and that we are always using our brain—and not relying on just 10% to get us through. The example of one woman, operated on at UCLA Medical Center, shows how this is true.
The woman spoke several languages. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor and required surgery. Doctors knew that her tumor was in the language center of the brain, and they wanted to be sure that surgery would not affect these areas. Brain surgery is unique in that patients are often awake while doctors operate, allowing them to identify target areas as they operate. In the case with the woman with several languages, an MRI was used to identify which part of the brain was responsible for each language. The woman was shown pictures and asked to identify the picture in each language.
What doctors found was that different parts in the brain controlled each language. When they operated, they managed to remove the tumor without affecting any of the language areas. What was learned from the woman’s surgery was that the brain manages to continue to develop as people grow older. Since the languages learned were acquired at different ages, the brain stored the knowledge in different areas.
Whenever new knowledge is learned, the brain stores it in new pathways. The more we learn, the more pathways are developed—no matter how old we are. By keeping our brains in shape, we continue to develop our brain, create new pathways and stay mentally alert.