Misconceptions Regarding the Brain

From Mind, Brain, and Education Journal - September, 2016

Understanding preservice teachers' misconceptions regarding the brain and neuroscience (neuromyths) can provide information that helps teachers to apply neuroscience knowledge in an educational context. The objective of this study was to investigate these misconceptions. Following preliminary research, a questionnaire comprising 59 challenging assertions in two categories (education and neuromyths) was developed as a data collection tool. The findings identify preservice teachers' neuromyths, which were found to vary by teaching area.


Types of Neuromyth

According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation, and Development (2002), the following are the most prominent neuromyths:

  • That humans use only 10% of their brain.

  • That either the left or right cerebral hemisphere is dominant.

  • That learning styles reflect different dominances, informing the use of VAK and dominant forms of perception in education.

  • That regular and plentiful intake of water improves children's brain function and test results.

  • That IQ is distributed across various types of multi-intelligence (e.g., Della Sala, 2007; Howard-Jones et al., 2009).

Visual Learning Style? -- from Mind/Shift

It’s common to hear people say, “I’m a visual learner,” but research doesn’t support the idea that learning styles like visual or auditory learning are inherent traits. That doesn’t mean learners don’t have preferences, but only one flawed study found that people actually learned better when information was presented in their preferred style. Instead, it seems that most people learn the best when information is presented in multiple ways, especially when one of them is visual.

“We are essentially walking talking vision-processing machines,” writes Dan Roam, author of Back of the Napkin, a bestselling book on how visual language affects business. “Our brain does a lot of stuff, but close to half of what we’re doing is seeing the world, all the time.”

So it’s really no surprise that a lot of people say they need to see something to remember it, a fact teachers should keep in mind when trying to reach students.

Hank Green lays it all out in this short SciShow episode.