Facts and Nonsense About the Brain – RL

An informative post from my favorite “fringe” blogger Robert Lindsay:

http://robertlindsay.wordpress.com/2010/11/28/facts-and-nonsense-about-the-brain/

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Like most things, there is much nonsense spoken about our brains. Our brains are very interesting to us, even to stupid people, because we use them to think. Yes, even dumb people do use their brains to think. We don’t really understand how our brains work, so some of us try to sound smart by pontificating about our mysterious brains.

Here are some widespread myths about our brains:

We only use [choose one: 10%, 20%] of our brains. This silly statement makes us feel good, because it suggests that if we really try hard, we can use 30 or 40% of our brains and make more money or get laid more or dazzle folks with our wit, or this or that. Problem is that no neurologist will agree with this statement, and no one quite knows even where it came from.

It’s one of those feel-good statements that is complete nonsense. We use all of our brains. Even total idiots are using all of their brains most of the time, strange as it may seem.

There are parts of the brain that are emotional and parts of the brain that are dedicated to cognition. This one is not nearly as silly as the first one, but it’s still not true. I know this because 15 years ago I was acquainted with a neuropsychologist. I forget what exactly he did, but I think he did various sorts of cognitive testing, and I think he also worked with people with various forms of brain damage.

He was also sort of a strange guy, but he was nice enough and he did have a PhD. I assumed that getting the PhD had problem driven him partly crazy, and he was neurotic as a result. He informed me that there were no emotional or thinking parts of the brain. He said that all of the brain engages in both thinking and emotion.

Sure, some parts, like the amygdala, are more dedicated to emotion and other parts, like the prefrontal cortex, are more dedicated to thinking, but all the parts do both.

(more at the link above)

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