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4 common but harmful myths about how your brain works

Left-brained or right-brained

People used to speak of being left or right-brain dominant (where the left brain is more logical and algorithmic, and the right brain more artistic and intuitive).

However, both hemispheres of your brain are involved in all of the complex work you do. The most effective thinkers are the ones who learn to rely on both their intuitive judgments as well as their reasoning.

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4 common but harmful myths about how your brain works

4 common but harmful myths about how your brain works

https://www.fastcompany.com/90443201/4-common-but-harmful-myths-about-how-your-brain-works

fastcompany.com

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Key Ideas

Using 10% of our brains

The source of this figure isn't entirely clear.

People's capacity to develop any skill is a combination of practice and talent. A person can get quite good at almost any skill if they practice hard at it.

Left-brained or right-brained

People used to speak of being left or right-brain dominant (where the left brain is more logical and algorithmic, and the right brain more artistic and intuitive).

However, both hemispheres of your brain are involved in all of the complex work you do. The most effective thinkers are the ones who learn to rely on both their intuitive judgments as well as their reasoning.

Emotions and rational thinking

The theory goes that emotions reflect a more primitive form of thinking and that good thinking is only logical.

However, when faced with risky decisions, it is possible to talk yourself into almost anything. But, even a little anxiety in that situation can provide information too valuable to ignore.

The learning styles theory

People have different preferences for getting information, be it visual, auditory, or tactile.

Based on these preferences, there was a popular proposal that there are differences between how people learn best. However, people study best when they learn new material in different modes, not just the one they prefer.

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Definition of Creativity
Definition of Creativity

Creativity is the process of generating new ideas, possibilities, or alternatives that result in outcomes that are original and of value. Characteristics:

  • It is not ...
"Naturally creative" people

Myth: "Some people are naturally creative and other people aren’t."

It’s true that some people spend more time on creative activities than others. But brain science is clear about the fact that there are creative brain states that can be turned on by some fairly simple actions. This means that everyone can learn how to be more creative.

Creativity and art

Myth: "Creativity means creating works of art."

Creativity is not just about being artistic. There are many ways to be creative, and creating works of art is just one way. Creativity includes many things, for example, cooking, programming, interface design, and problem solving.

one more idea

Re-reading and highlighting

Both of these study strategies are relatively ineffective. Passively reading the same text over and over again won’t do much for recall unless it’s spaced out over time. 

Different learning styles

Systematic studies of learning styles have consistently found no evidence or very weak evidence to support the idea that matching the material to a student’s learning style is more effective.

Right or left-brained

There is no conclusive evidence that people preferentially use the left or right hemisphere.

Certain functions are processed more by one region of the brain than others, and this is known as lateralization. But we all use our entire brain equally.

7 more ideas

The right side of the brain
The right side of the brain

Creativity isn’t the preserve of one side of the brain, and it isn’t a talent confined to people with a special kind of brain. If you’re human and you’ve got a brain, you’re capabl...

The “Eureka!” moment

This myth encourages the belief that creativity is a passive process. It suggests you have to wait and hope that you’ll make a breakthrough.

That Eureka moment is actually the last step in a long, involved process and not the only step. For this to happen, your unconscious mind needs material to work with. You have to put in the hard work of studying and mastering your field and exposing yourself to different perspectives.

The lone, eccentric geniuses

In reality, creativity is a team sport.

The lone genius myth is a stereotype and it’s unhelpful because it suggests the route to innovation is to cut oneself off from colleagues and collaboration. You need a modest amount of intelligence to be creative, but extremely high IQ is neither sufficient nor necessary for being an innovator.

2 more ideas

Styles of learning

The concept of learning styles--such as visual versus verbal or active versus reflective--is commonplace, but it turns out that there is little evidence to ...

Right-brained or left-brained

Research doesn’t strongly support this concept of the lateral brain--or that people have a dominant side of the brain that dictates how we learn.  

Even in simple actions, both hemispheres of the brain are engaged. 

"Exercises" that will make you smarter

"One minute playing Mozart will make your baby a genius, the next crosswords will fend off your mental decline"... The research behind these claims is weak. 

Learning methods are not so much based upon how the brain is structured, but based upon our experiences. Our experiences do affect brain development. The wiring of the brain depends upon the experiences we have.

The critical window of childhood
The critical window of childhood

There is an assumption that in the first years of life the vast majority of the brain’s development occurs, and after this period, the trajectory of human development is more or less fixed.&...

The idle-brain theory

Irrespective of what a person is doing, the entire brain is generally active and, depending on the task, some areas are more active than others. 

People can always learn new ideas and new skills, not by tapping into some unused part of the brain, but by forming new or stronger connections between nerve cells.

The left/right brain hypothesis

The theory that most people are either dominantly analytical (and left-brained) or creative (and right-brained) is false.

The two hemispheres of the brain are linked and communicate extensively together; they do not work in isolation. 

Recent studies suggest that engaging all the senses in a variety of ways (for instance, audiovisual and tactile) can help employees retain new content.

Right-brained or left-brained
Right-brained or left-brained

According to conventional wisdom, people tend to be either right-brained or left-brained. Those who are right-brained are supposed to be intuitive and creative free thinkers; they are big-pictur...

Location

Some brain functions reside more on one side of the brain than the other. The left side of the brain control language and the right half control movement of the left arm and leg (and vice versa.)

But for more individual personality traits, such as creativity or a tendency toward the rational rather than the intuitive, there is little or no evidence supporting the claim that these reside in a specific area of the brain.

The right-brain/left-brain myth

The idea of right-brain/left-brain may be a myth as evidence is mounting against the idea.

A 2013 study demonstrated that activity is similar on both sides of the brain regardless of one's personality. The study concluded that the notion that some people are more left or right-brained is more a figure of speech than it is anatomically accurate.