Myths about How Our Brains Work

brainrulesHave you ever wondered what scientists are discovering about the brain?  Well I was curious and decided to read John Medina’s book Brain Rules. Medina, a molecular biologist, shares what scientists know for sure about how our brains work. It surprised me to find that some things I had learned about the brain were myths.  Here are a few of those myths and the facts about them according to Medina:

Myth:  Our brains can multitask.

Facts per Medina:  It is literally impossible for our brains to multitask when it comes to paying attention.  The brain is a sequential processor, unable to pay attention to two things at the same time.  Research shows that multitasking reduces productivity and increases mistakes.

So now we have scientific research which proves that the person texting in the meeting is truly unable to pay attention to the speaker.

Myth:  We see with our eye and our brains store information accurately.

Facts per Medina:  Our brains give us only an approximate view of reality, because they mix new knowledge with past memories and store them together as one.  We see with our brains.  What we see is only what our brains tell us we see, and it’s not 100 percent accurate.

Our dearly held realities might just be opinions or false perceptions.  We could all benefit by remembering this, and it might help us to separate the facts from the fiction when resolving workplace conflict.

Myth: Cramming information into our brains helps us remember.

Facts per Medina:  Memory increases simply by repeating the information in timed intervals.  Spaced learning is greatly superior to massed learning.  Use relevant real-world examples or meaningful experiences embedded in information to improve learning.

Giving ourselves time to absorb information allows our brains to do what they do best – learn and solve problems.

Myth:   You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

Facts per Medina:  Research has shown that some regions of the adult brain stay as malleable as a baby’s brain, so we can grow new connections, strengthen existing connections, and even create new neurons allowing all of us to be lifelong learners.  We do lose synaptic connections with age.  But the adult brain also continues creating neurons involving learning.  These new neurons show the same plasticity as those of newborns.

As changing market demands force us to look for new ways of adapting, we are best served by exploring and being curious, by looking for what is not there and filling in what is missing.

Brain Rules provides many insights about how to use our brains for peak performance.  Click here to order your copy and learn more about Medina’s fascinating research.