Your whole brain reacts to events

The idea that your brain reacts to events in the world is a myth. The idea supposes that you go through your day with parts of your brain in the off position, but when something happens around you, those parts become active and light up with activity.

But the brain doesn't work by stimulus and response. All your neurons are firing all the time at various rates. Your brain uses all its available information to predict what will happen next and make corrections outside of your awareness.

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That Is Not How Your Brain Works - Issue 98: Mind - Nautilus

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Neurons have multiple tasks

It is a myth that specific parts of the human brain have specific psychological jobs. The myth claims that the brain has separate parts, each with a dedicated mental function - one part for vision, another for memory, etc.

Today, we know the brain is a massive network of neurons with multiple jobs, not a single psychological purpose. Not all neurons can do everything, but most neurons do more than one thing.

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This myth is the idea that the human brain evolved in three layers.

  • The deepest layer is known as the lizard brain and said to house our instincts.
  • The middle layer - the limbic system - allegedly contains emotions inherited from ancient mammals.
  • The topmost layer, named the neocortex, is uniquely human and supposedly lets us regulate our brutish emotions and instincts.

Modern research has revealed that the brain doesn't evolve in layers but is built from a manufacturing plan using the same neurons.

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This myth states that there's a clear dividing line between the disease of the body, such as cardiovascular disease, and the disease of the mind, such as depression. Philosopher René Descartes popularized the idea that body and mind are separate.

But neuroscientists have found that the same brain networks responsible for controlling your body are involved in creating your mind. Every mental experience has physical causes, and physical changes in your body often have mental consequences.

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The olfactory sense at work

Our sense of smell works in wondrous ways since the chemical composition of our surrounding change instantly and constantly. Our noses pick up volatile airborne compounds that interact with our olfactory receptors.

The information that we get from our surroundings pass through our noses and then to the core cortex in the brain. We, humans have about 400 types of olfactory receptors which is used to identify many different types of chemicals that have varying odor quality.

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Our Mind-Boggling Sense of Smell - Issue 91: The Amazing Brain - Nautilus

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The noise in our brains

With record-high instances of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse in the United States, and likely elsewhere, we still think antidepressants can be used to relieve some of the damage. But this may not be true. The use of antidepressants has inadvertently left many less able to feel empathy toward others, laugh, cry, dream, and enjoy life when we need it most.

A theory of brain function involving serotonin may point a way forward for effective treatment.

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Why Making Our Brains Noisier Feels Good - Issue 96: Rewired - Nautilus

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Myth: You have a lizard in your head

You may have heard that your passions lie deep in ancient parts of your brain that you apparently inherited from prehistoric reptiles. Or that your "rational brain" which sits on top of your "lizard brain" tries to moderate your desires.

The only animal with a lizard brain is a lizard. Neuroscience clearly shows that brains don't evolve in layers but follow a single manufacturing plan.

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7 (and a half) myths about your brain

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