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Start your Monday off right: Debunk brain myths


Here at the Guardian:

If you want to make a neuroscientist’s head explode, all you need to do is confidently and triumphantly tell them that humans only use 10% of their brains. Or that right-brained people are more creative than left-brained people. Or that jiggling your head around gets more blood to the brain so you can think more efficiently. These are myths about the brain that have now been around for so long, it’s a wonder they haven’t had a congratulatory message from the Queen.

Unfortunately, because they’ve been around for so long, neuromyths have taken hold in a broad range of aspects of everyday life. Nowhere is this more problematic than in the education system. A new article in Nature Reviews Neuroscience this week has cast a critical eye on the issue, and reveals some worrying statistics about the extent to which brain baloney have infiltrated the beliefs of teachers around the world.

The survey, conducted by Paul Howard-Jones at the University of Bristol, asked 938 teachers from five different countries whether they agreed or not with a number of statements relating to popular myths about the brain. The results paint a picture of a global epidemic of neurononsense. …

Apparently, there is new book out, Great Myths of the Brain, which helps.

It’ll have no effect on local school boards, whose notables track their progress by the size of “brain” speakers’ fees they have to pay, from YORE taxes.

Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose

One fact about the brain that is not a myth, a fact that needs to become part of the education curriculum, is the following,,,
Human brain has more switches than all computers on Earth - November 2010 Excerpt: They found that the brain's complexity is beyond anything they'd imagined, almost to the point of being beyond belief, says Stephen Smith, a professor of molecular and cellular physiology and senior author of the paper describing the study: ...One synapse, by itself, is more like a microprocessor--with both memory-storage and information-processing elements--than a mere on/off switch. In fact, one synapse may contain on the order of 1,000 molecular-scale switches. A single human brain has more switches than all the computers and routers and Internet connections on Earth. http://news.cnet.com/8301-27083_3-20023112-247.html
Moreover, despite this 'almost beyond belief' complexity, the brain consumes far, far, less power than a computer,,,
Does Thinking Really Hard Burn More Calories? - By Ferris Jabr - July 2012 Excerpt: Unlike physical exercise, mental workouts probably do not demand significantly more energy than usual. Believing we have drained our brains, however, may be enough to induce weariness,,, Although the average adult human brain weighs about 1.4 kilograms, only 2 percent of total body weight, it demands 20 percent of our resting metabolic rate (RMR)—the total amount of energy our bodies expend in one very lazy day of no activity.,,, —Resting metabolic rate: 1300 kilocalories, or kcal, the kind used in nutrition —1,300 kcal over 24 hours = 54.16 kcal per hour = 15.04 gram calories per second —15.04 gram calories/sec = 62.93 joules/sec = about 63 watts —20 percent of 63 watts = 12.6 watts So a typical adult human brain runs on around 12 watts—a fifth of the power required by a standard 60 watt lightbulb. Compared with most other organs, the brain is greedy; pitted against man-made electronics, it is astoundingly efficient. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=thinking-hard-calories
Moreover, the power consumption of the brain, despite widely varying mental activity, is remarkably constant over time,,
Appraising the brain's energy budget: Excerpt: In the average adult human, the brain represents about 2% of the body weight. Remarkably, despite its relatively small size, the brain accounts for about 20% of the oxygen and, hence, calories consumed by the body. This high rate of metabolism is remarkably constant despite widely varying mental and motoric activity. The metabolic activity of the brain is remarkably constant over time. http://www.pnas.org/content/99/16/10237.full THE EFFECT OF MENTAL ARITHMETIC ON CEREBRAL CIRCULATION AND METABOLISM Excerpt: Although Lennox considered the performance of mental arithmetic as "mental work", it is not immediately apparent what the nature of that work in the physical sense might be if, indeed, there be any. If no work or energy transformation is involved in the process of thought, then it is not surprising that cerebral oxygen consumption is unaltered during mental arithmetic. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC438861/pdf/jcinvest00624-0127.pdf
The preceding experiments are very unexpected to materialists since materialists hold that 'mind' is merely a 'emergent property' of the physical processes of a material brain. But why should 'thought' which is presupposed to be result of, and subservient to, the material processes of the brain constrain the material brain to operate at such a constant and optimal metabolic rate whereas the rest of body fluctuates in its metabolic activity? The most parsimonious explanation for such a optimal constraint on the brain's metabolic activity is that the material brain was designed, first and foremost, to house the mind and give the mind the most favorable metabolic environment possible at all times.bornagain77
October 20, 2014
04:23 AM

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