Famous Scientific ‘Facts’ That May Be Total B.S.

How much do you know about the human brain? Probably not as much as you thought. A lot of the psychology you thought you could trust has actually promoted a lot of myths about behavior and how your brain works. These scientific facts, it turns out, are more science fiction.

Your brain ‘shuts off’ when you sleep

Man sleeping in his bed

Your brain is doing plenty of work while you sleep. | iStock.com/tommaso79

The rest of your body seems to slow down when your head hits the pillow. So it’s easy to assume your brain behaves the same way.

In reality, your brain has a lot to do while the rest of your body rests. There are plenty of memories to preserve, and tons of information to process. Your brain also has a lot of cleaning up to do, clearing out waste and dangerous proteins that often contribute to dementia.

You’re either left-brained or right-brained

Brain lobes in different colors

The left and right side of your brain contribute to how you process information. | iStock.com/alex-mit

Do you operate based on logic, or are you more of an abstract thinker? While you might rely more on one method of problem-solving than the other, it actually as nothing to do with different brain hemispheres.

Our ability to think logically or more creatively depends not on one side of the brain or the other, but rather the connections between different regions of our brains. Both the left and right sides of your brain contribute to the way you process information.

Smarter people have bigger brains

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein’s brain probably wasn’t no bigger than yours. | Central Press/Getty Images

For a long time, you’ve probably assumed that the smarter a person is, the larger their brain volume. It turns out that just because someone might have a big head doesn’t mean they’re any smarter than you are.

Having a big brain doesn’t necessarily make you more intelligent. Research has found extremely weak correlations between brain size and intelligence level. Brain size varies from human to human, and scientists aren’t yet fully aware of exactly why that is.

Your brain gets a new wrinkle every time you learn something new

Woman looking at art exhibit of brain

The wrinkles in your brain occur naturally. | Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Your brain isn’t smooth. Its surface is a maze of folds and crevices, which develop over time as you grow physically and cognitively.

How your brain gets its wrinkles has a lot to do with genetics and pure physiology. As your brain grows and develops, these wrinkles or “folds” happen naturally. They don’t pop up every time you memorize another flashcard or absorb a new piece of seemingly useless trivia.

A ‘power pose’ will boost your confidence

Wonder Woman holds the American Flag

You’ll need more than just your body language to boost your confidence. | Pinterest

One of the most popular TED Talks online claims power posing like Wonder Woman can boost your confidence. If only the evidence gave us a better excuse to stand like that more often.

Researchers haven’t been able to replicate the findings that inspired that talk. You’re probably better off preparing a little bit more for that presentation than relying on body language to make you feel more self-confident.

Alcohol kills brain cells

Group Of Friends Enjoying Night Out

Alcohol doesn’t kill your brain cells every time you drink. | iStock.com

The type of alcohol found in hand sanitizer has the power to kill certain cells and harmful bacteria. Thankfully, the alcohol you order at your favorite bar doesn’t behave the same way once it enters your bloodstream — or your brain.

Your liver, responsible for processing and removing toxins from your body, makes sure of that. It converts your beverage to something less damaging. Alcohol might temporarily inhibit certain functions in your brain, but moderate drinking probably won’t cause the kind of damage you’re thinking of.

You can’t regrow brain cells once they die

MRI brain scan

Your brain actually is able to regenerate brain cells. | iStock.com/Movus

It’s a common misconception that your brain can’t regenerate cells as they die off. There might actually be a few things you can do to generate new cells.

Your brain does actually have the capacity to “regrow” cells — a process called neurogenesis. Researchers are trying to figure out how to stimulate this regrowth┬áin humans. Some animal studies suggest activities like exercise and playing certain types of video games might help, but until we test these things out in human participants, we won’t know for sure.

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