Interest in neurosciences, following their proliferation, has never stopped increasing. This has resulted in a decontextualization or misinterpretation of many research findings or knowledge, giving rise to what we call neuromyths.
These myths about scientific knowledge are particularly powerful in education. Thus, parents, teachers and students came to believe certain things about the brain when the learning was far from fair.
These information biases have also given rise to educational methods and other practices that are not based on evidence. The result is none other than erroneous judgments and perceptions that condition the way educators (parents or teachers) will teach.
All neuromyths are based on real scientific knowledge. However, the information was distorted or only one of its aspects was taken into account. We are now going to focus on the three most common neuromyths .
1. We only use 10% of our brain
We could consider this neuromyth as being the most widespread because it keeps coming back in the mouths of educators, advertisers, parapsychologists, etc. The myth suggests that we only use 10% of our brain and that percentage can increase through training or learning techniques because the remaining 90% is free and unused.
What is true about this neuromyth ? We know that the brain is a very powerful organ and cannot be used 100% because of its functionality. But that doesn’t mean its abilities can’t improve – those improvements happen by strengthening connections, creating new networks, or improving brain health. It has nothing to do with its space.
If the brain were to activate in its entirety, an enormous energy wear would take place. It would also produce several types of behavior at the same time. The brain works by activating different areas that connect with each other to trigger a cognitive process or behavior.
On the other hand, when we sleep, our whole brain shows a small level of activity. Therefore, we use it well 100% of the brain but only the necessary regions are activated at the same time.
2. Disassemble neuromyths: learning is more efficient if one follows a learning style
Another widely held belief in education is that students learn best when information matches their learning style. Three styles have been defined: auditory, synaesthetic or visual.
Thus, each student should receive an education according to his style. In some schools, it has even come to labeling each child with the initial of his style.
However, this belief is not based on scientific evidence. Nothing has ever shown that learning is more effective when delivered through one of these channels. In addition, a great lack of research has been observed on this subject.
However, each brain is the result of a set of unique experiences. It is therefore inevitable that each person prefers to learn in a certain way. But will this way be more effective?
One thing is certain: when the brain receives different stimuli that are not integrated at the sensory level, confusion occurs. He then needs more resources to integrate the information.
On the other hand, when the information is rich and covers several sensory channels, memory and learning are more powerful.
3. The hemispheres are independent and determine the personality
This widely held myth suggests the following idea: each cerebral hemisphere is responsible for certain processes and works independently of the other. One of them is also dominant and will determine the characteristics and personality of people.
According to this idea, the right hemisphere is that of global thought, artistic, sensory and carefree. For its part, the left hemisphere would be that of the analytical brain, responsible, precise, structured and logical.
In relation to this idea, we can now say, thanks to science, that it is not true. Both hemispheres receive information of all kinds and treat them the same. However, some functions are specifically worked on in areas that are in one hemisphere or another.
However, all information works in an interconnected way, unless there is an organic disorder.
Moreover, even if being right-handed or left-handed implies the dominance of a hemisphere, this has nothing to do with the type of information processing or the personality of the person. In all cases, the skills and abilities of an individual are primarily determined by experience and other hereditary factors.
There are many more neuromyths …
We find more neuromyths : we can only learn certain skills up to 3 years old, intelligence is something that is inherited and that we cannot change, sugar makes attention worse… Ultimately, it It is very important to pay attention to the mistaken beliefs which determine such essential aspects as education.
Some studies have shown that 95% of teachers believe in neuromyths. This will obviously determine what they expect from the pupils and the way they will work with them (Pygmalion effect). We must therefore ensure that we provide the right scientific knowledge and correctly disclose the right results.