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Let’s debunk these ten brain and brain health myths

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In hon­or of Brain Aware­ness Week 2016, let’s debunk ten myths about the brain and brain health that remain sur­pris­ing­ly pop­u­lar.

Top 10 brain and brain health myths, debunked:

Myth 1. Genes deter­mine the fate of our brains.
Fact: Life­long brain plas­tic­ity means that our lifestyles and behav­iors play a sig­nif­i­cant role in how our brains (and there­fore our minds) evolve phys­i­cal­ly and func­tion­al­ly as we get old­er.

Myth 2. We are what we eat.
Fact: We are what we do, think, and feel, much more than what we eat. (Even if, yes, nutri­tion plays a role)

Myth 3. Med­ica­tion is the main hope for brain health and enhance­ment.
Fact: Non-inva­sive inter­ven­tions such as aer­o­bic exer­cise and med­i­ta­tion can have com­pa­ra­ble and more durable ben­e­fits, and free of side effects.

Myth 4. There’s noth­ing we can do to beat Alzheimer’s dis­ease and cog­ni­tive decline.
Fact: While noth­ing has been proven to pre­vent the pathol­o­gy of Alzheimer’s dis­ease, there is abun­dant research show­ing we can delay the onset of symp­toms for years.

Myth 5. There is only one “it” in “Use it or Lose it”.
Fact: The brain presents many neur­al cir­cuits sup­port­ing a vari­ety of impor­tant cog­ni­tive, emo­tion­al, and exec­u­tive func­tions. Not just one. (Which is one of the rea­sons we should stop think­ing about mag­ic pills and sil­ver bul­lets)

Myth 6. Inter­ven­tion XYZ can help reverse your brain age 10, 20, or 30 years.
Fact: The con­cept of “brain age” is a fic­tion. Some brain func­tions tend to improve, and some to decline, as we get old­er. Noth­ing can be said to “reverse brain age” in a gen­er­al sense.

Myth 7. There is a sci­en­tif­ic con­sen­sus that brain train­ing doesn’t work.
Fact: A group of sci­en­tists did issue such a state­ment, which was prompt­ly con­tra­dict­ed by a larg­er group of sci­en­tists. Consensus…that is cer­tain­ly not. Brain train­ing, when it meets cer­tain con­di­tions, has been shown to trans­fer into real-world out­comes.

Myth 8. Brain train­ing is pri­mar­i­ly about videogames.
Fact: Evi­dence-based brain train­ing includes some forms of med­i­ta­tion, cog­ni­tive ther­apy, cog­ni­tive train­ing, and bio/neurofeedback. Inter­ac­tive media such as videogames can make those inter­ven­tions more engag­ing and scal­able, but it is impor­tant to dis­tin­guish the means from the end, as obvi­ous­ly not all videogames are the same.

Myth 9. Heart health equals brain health.
Fact: While heart health con­tributes sig­nif­i­cant­ly to brain health, and vice ver­sa, the heart and the brain are sep­a­rate organs, with their respec­tive func­tions and rel­e­vant inter­ven­tions. What we need is to pay much more sys­tem­at­ic atten­tion to brain health, so it can advance as much as car­dio­vas­cu­lar health already has. 

Myth 10. As long as my brain is work­ing fine, why should I even pay atten­tion to it?
Fact: For the same rea­sons you add gas to your car, and change the oil reg­u­lar­ly– so that it works well, and for a long peri­od of time.

–> To learn more, please join this Webi­nar on April 21st: 50 Must-Know Facts to Har­ness Neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty & Tech­nol­o­gy For Bet­ter Brain Health (Note: Reg­is­tra­tion cov­ers the webi­nar AND 15+ hours of record­ings from 2015 Sharp­Brains Vir­tu­al Sum­mit)

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Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Education & Lifelong Learning, Health & Wellness

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