The brain is the body's control center, and yet many people have misconceptions about how their brains work and how they think.
Dr. Oz talks with Dr. Sam Wang, a neuroscientist and co-author of Welcome to Your Brain: Why You Lose Your Car Keys but Never Forget How to Drive and Other Puzzles of Everyday Life, who addresses some of the most common myths people have about the human brain.
Myth 1: You only use 10 percent of your brain.
Dr. Wang says that, at any given moment, when people are put into a brain scanner, only a small fraction of the brain lights up during a particular task—but that fraction changes over time. Therefore, he says, it's more accurate to say that we only use a small fraction of our brain's full potential and that different parts kick in to different degrees at different times. "There's a little grain of truth in there, but you [do] need your whole brain," he says.
Myth 2: The brain is like a computer or recording device.
Unlike a computer or recording device, the brain is actually not very reliable when it comes to storing data, Dr. Wang says. "Your brain is this machine that's evolved over millions of years to do a good job of getting you through life—to help you survive, to help you live to fight another day—but what it is not is a recording device." Dr. Wang says lawyers often use this fact to their advantage to poke holes in eyewitness accounts. "Your brain is not reliable at telling you the truth about everything," he says.
Myth 3: Watching educational DVDs or videos makes babies smarter.
According to Dr. Wang, some studies have shown DVDs that combine simple animated shapes with classical music playing in the background may actually delay language development in toddlers. "If you expose a baby to one hour a day, it seems to slow acquisition of vocabulary," he says. The same could not be said for other types of videos or television programming.
Printed from Oprah.com on Friday, December 6, 2013