[…] sometimes, old scientific beliefs persist, and are even vigorously defended, long after we have sufficient evidence to abandon them. As a neuroscientist, I see scientific myths about the brain repeated regularly in the media and corners of academic research. Three of them, in particular, stand out for correction. […] “That Is Not How Your Brain Works” by Lisa Feldman Barrett is about three brain myths.
Misconceptions, especially when packed in a framework or easy to understand structure (like a triune brain) get embed in our beliefs long after debunked.
Lisa Feldman Barrett describes in That Is Not How Your Brain Works three persistent myths about our brains.
Myth 1. Brain is not constructed from distinctive parts that are responsible for distinctive things.
Today, we know the brain isn’t divided into puzzle pieces with dedicated psychological functions. Instead, the human brain is a massive network of neurons. Most neurons have multiple jobs, not a single psychological purpose. For example, neurons in a brain region called the anterior cingulate cortex are regularly involved in memory, emotion, decision-making, pain, moral judgments, imagination, attention, and empathy
Myth 2. Brain is not at sleep and responding to stimuli only.
Brains, however, don’t work by stimulus and response. All your neurons are firing at various rates all the time. What are they doing? Busily making predictions.9 In every moment, your brain uses all its available information (your memory, your situation, the state of your body) to take guesses about what will happen in the next moment. If a guess turns out to be correct, your brain has a head start: It’s already launching your body’s next actions and creating what you see, hear, and feel. If a guess is wrong, the brain can correct itself and hopefully learn to predict better next time. Or sometimes it doesn’t bother correcting the guess, and you might see or hear things that aren’t present or do something that you didn’t consciously intend. All of this prediction and correction happens in the blink of an eye, outside your awareness.
Myth 3. Mind and body are not separated.
When thinking about the relationship between mind and body, it’s tempting to indulge in the myth that the mind is solely in the brain and the body is separate. Under the hood, however, your brain creates your mind while it regulates the systems of your body. That means the regulation of your body is itself part of your mind.