In last week’s Mind Over Matter post, I looked at how to cut through the neuroscience buzz and extract real information that can improve learning programs.
To help out with the process, Ann Herrmann-Nehdi, CEO of thinking research and learning organization Herrmann International, said there are a few neuroscience myths that learning leaders should recognize right away as false:
Myth: We only use 10 percent of our brains, and it’s slowing us down.
Fact: As much as Hollywood would like us to believe through movies like “Lucy” and “Limitless” that we could all be superhuman if we unlocked 90 percent of our brain capacity, Herrmann-Nehdi said that’s simply not true. We have full use of our brain but only so much of it needs to be working at a time for us to fully function.
Myth: We can multitask.
Fact: A simple examination of how many car accidents happen because of people eating, texting, talking or otherwise not devoting all their attention to the road can discredit this theory. We feel like we can do many things at the same time, but really we’re just switching between the different parts of the brain handling each task. “The brain is not a parallel processer,” Herrmann-Nehdi said. “There’s at least a 50 percent increase in error rate and it takes you 50 percent longer to do something while multitasking.”
Myth: The right puzzles and classical music can boost intelligence.
Fact: Although there are short-term benefits of using mind-strengthening games and listening to classical music, there’s no long-term efficacy, Herrmann-Nehdi said. But hey, if you like Beethoven, it can’t hurt to listen to the fifth symphony every so often. Personally, I’m more of a Gershwin fan — “Rhapsody in Blue” is my jam.
Myth: After a certain point, the brain is permanently wired and cannot change.
Fact: Herrmann-Nehdi said this is her favorite myth to debunk. Originally scientists believed the brain stopped growing at a certain age, but in the last 15 years researchers have found that it changes throughout life. “Learning can produce new connections, but it takes energy to do that,” she said. “That’s an important implication for corporate learning because it means all dogs can learn new tricks.”