Mind the myth! Neuroscientists aren't immune to them either

2nd Aug 2017

It seems that neuromyths - common misconceptions about brain science - are so pervasive and tantalising to believe that trained neuroscientists as well as the general public still find them hard to dismiss.

'Classic' neuromyths include individuals having different learning styles, the 'Mozart effect', the impact of sugar on attention, right-brain/left-brain learners (illustrated right), and using 10% of the brain.

Despite concerted efforts by neuroscientists to dispel such beliefs (e.g, see the short films 'Exploding brain myths' by BNA member Rhiannon Meredith) a new study reveals that they remain highly prevalent across society - including amongst those who study neuroscience.

In the first study of its kind, researchers compared the level of belief in neuromyths held by members of the public with both educators and with people who have a high level of exposure to neuroscience research. 

Although the general public endorsed the greatest number of neuromyths (M=68%), the high neuroscience exposure group still endorsed nearly half: 46%.  Educators fell between the two, at 56% endorsement level. 

The study showed that accuracy in neuromyth endorsement correlated with age (younger = more accurate), education (having a graduate degree), exposure to neuroscience courses, and exposure to peer-reviewed science. 

Full text of the study is published in Frontiers in Psychology, available at journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01314/full.

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