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Debunking 10 Brain Myths

Debunk­ing 10 Brain and Brain Fit­ness Myths

MYTHS
FACTS
1. Genes deter­mine the fate of our brains. Life­long neu­ro­plas­tic­ity allows our lifestyles and actions to play a mean­ing­ful role in how our brains phys­i­cally evolve, espe­cially given longer life expectancy.
2. Aging means auto­matic decline. There is noth­ing inher­ently fixed in the pre­cise tra­jec­tory of how brain func­tions evolve as we age.
3. Med­ica­tion is the main hope for cog­ni­tive enhancement. Non-invasive inter­ven­tions can have com­pa­ra­ble and more durable effects, side effect-free.
4. We will soon have a Magic Pill or Gen­eral Solu­tion to solve all our cog­ni­tive challenges. A multi-pronged approach is rec­om­mended, cen­tered around nutri­tion, stress man­age­ment, and both phys­i­cal and men­tal exercise.
5. There is only one in “Use It or Lose it”. The brain is com­posed of a num­ber of spe­cial­ized units. Our life and pro­duc­tiv­ity depend on a vari­ety of brain func­tions, not just one.
6. All brain activ­i­ties or exer­cises are equal. Var­ied and tar­geted exer­cises are the nec­es­sary ingre­di­ents in brain train­ing so that a wide range of brain func­tions can be stimulated.
7. There is only one way to train your brain. Brain func­tions can be impacted in a num­ber of ways: through med­i­ta­tion, cog­ni­tive ther­apy, cog­ni­tive training.
8. We all have some­thing called Brain Age. Brain age is a fic­tion. No two indi­vid­u­als have the same brain or expres­sion of brain functions.
9. That brain age can be reversed by 10, 20, 30 years. Brain train­ing can improve spe­cific brain func­tions, but, with research avail­able today, can­not be said to roll back one brain age by a num­ber of years.
10. All human brains need the same brain training. As in phys­i­cal fit­ness, users must ask them­selves: What func­tions do I need to improve on? In what time frame? What is my budget?

—This is an excerpt from the book The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness (May 2009, $19.95), by Alvaro Fer­nan­dez and Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg.

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