We live on planet earth at a very exciting time!

While there is still an infinite amount more to discover about the human brain, so much has been uncovered over the past three decades.

We can, if we so choose, care for, change and optimize our brain health and cognitive power by putting into practice some practical and user-friendly neuroscience – aka Brain Fitness. My favourite thing to share!

In order to understand what’s possible and move forward effectively, it’s important to clear up some misconceptions about the human brain.

These brain myths could be hindering your understanding of your brain and how to maximize its potential…


1. There are 100 Billion Neurons in the human brain.

For decades scientists would refer to 100 billion being the number of neurons that compose the human brain. In 2009 however, a researcher came up with a method of accurately counting the neurons. It turns out that the human brain contains 86 billion neurons. That’s 14 billion shy of the original estimation.

2. The brain is hard-wired.

Perhaps the biggest discovery in neuroscience in the past few decades is that the brain is like plasticine, meaning that it’s remarkably plastic. Thus, the advent of the word ‘neuroplasticity’ which is used to describe the brain’s ability to change, be modified and sculpted! Behaviour, personality, IQ, skill sets, and brain health are not set in stone. Even following a serious brain injury, the brain may form new connections and heal over time.

3. We only use 10 percent of our brains.

This urban legend implies that we have huge reserves of untapped mental powers and intelligence. Since brains are expensive and take a lot of energy to build and maintain, it would not make sense to carry around extra brain tissue. As well, experiments using PET or fMRI scans show that much of the brain is engaged during simple tasks and during sleep.

4. Brain Cells Die Permanently.

Scientists have discovered evidence that the human adult brain forms new cells throughout life, even during old age. As long as you are on the planet, you can create new brain cells! This is called neurogenesis, and researchers have found that it happens in an important region of the brain called the hippocampus, known as the learning and memory center of your brain.

5. We only have 5 senses.

You are probably quite aware of the most commonly known senses: sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch. Did you know that we have many other ways of sensing the world and our place in it? For example, here are 5 more:  1) Vestibular — sense of balance, 2) Kinaesthesia – sense of movement, 3) Proprioception – sense of how our body position is in space, 4) Thermoception – ability to decipher temperature, 5) Chronoception -sensing the passage of time.

6. It’s all downhill after your 40s.

Your brain improves as you age!  While children tend to be better at learning new languages than adults, (and research shows that young adults can more easily memorize a list of random words), there are numerous mental skills that improve with age. For example, older people know more words and understand subtle linguistic distinctions. As well, they are better judges of character, score higher on tests of social wisdom such as how to settle a conflict, and people tend to get better over time at regulating their emotions and finding meaning in their lives.

7. We see the world as it is.

Nope, we actually see the world, as we are! We are not passive receivers of extraneous information that enters our sensory system and that gets sent to our brain regions. Instead, we actively search for patterns, turn ambiguous scenes into ones that fit into the mold of our personal expectations, and completely miss details we aren’t expecting. We also have biases about what we expect or want to see. Our perception of the world isn’t limited to “bottom-up”—objective observations, filed together in a logical way. It’s also, a “top-down’ system, driven by our own expectations and interpretations.

8. We can multitask.

The human brain cannot simultaneously perform two tasks that require high-level brain function. Functions that your lower brain regions manage in tandem, like breathing and pumping blood, aren’t considered multitasking. Tasks that you consciously need to think about are considered multitasking. However, what is actually happening is that you are rapidly switching between tasks and turning off the rules (how the brain performs a given task) for the previous task and turning on the rules for the new task. The switching occurs quickly – tenths of a second – so you may not even notice.

So, now that you are updated on current brain facts, how might you use this new understanding to your advantage?

Since awareness creates brain changes, just by reading this article you already have new connections available. 

I invite you to join me for an upcoming Brain Fitness seminar or course to build on your new learning!

To your Fit Brain & Fit Life,