By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.
Many things people believe about their brains are myths.
Knowledge in brain science, like other areas, has been growing at a phenomenal rate. The result of this new knowledge is that many of the things we used to think were true about the brain have turned out to be myths.
You lose brain cells as you age. – Not true.
The brain tends to shrink with age, so the nerve cells become closer together. The number of connections between cells influences thinking, and older people have just as many synaptic connections. The idea that you are destined to lose cells and therefore thinking ability as you age turns out to be false.
As an increasing number of people are living long enough to reach old age, we are seeing more people develop brain disorders. With a more significant portion of the population reaching the oldest-old category, brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s have become much more noticeable. But the idea that everyone loses considerable cognitive abilities as they age no longer appears to be true.
Glial cells don’t do much.
When I first studied the brain back in the 1960s, we learned that glial cells were basically “packing material” that kept the brain from collapsing or electrical circuits from shorting out. It turns out glial cells do a whole lot of essential things. Glial cells can influence information processing. They help create and eliminate synapses or connections between nerve cells, which are vital for memory and information processing. Glial cells also appear to be a part of the chemical manufacturing and recycling, which goes on in the brain.
Alcohol destroys nerve cells.
Alcohol destroys the insulation on nerve cells, so they don’t work as well. The brain can rebuild insulation to some extent. Alcohol does affect various parts of the brain in different ways. The frontal lobe, the decision-making part, is most affected by heavy drinking. Dehydration from alcohol contributes to the brain shrinking.
Most people only use a small percentage of their brains.
The idea that people use only a small fraction of their brain has been repeated a lot. The idea of saying this was to encourage people to do more with their brains. Think of this as moving from your old apartment into a 20-room house. With so much room, you can spread the furniture out. So, you put the dining table in one room, and each of the dining chairs in separate rooms. While every room in the house is in use, there’s room for a whole lot more. Human brains continue to grow new connections. That’s how we remember things. While you’re using your whole brain, you have a lot of extra space in every one of those parts of your brain to store more information.
There were four brain myths that over 40 percent of the participants in one study thought was definitely true: that the brain is very well designed; that after head injury, people can forget who they are and not recognize others, but be normal in every other way; that we have five senses; and that our brain cells are joined together forming a vast network of nerves.
For more on brain myths, see the book – Great Myths of the Brain.
Staying connected with David Joel Miller
Six David Joel Miller Books are available now!
Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.
Dark Family Secrets: Some family secrets can be deadly.
What if your family secrets put you in danger?
Letters from the Dead The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.
What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead?
Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.
Planned Accidents The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.
Sasquatch. Wandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive?
For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller
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