If neurons could talk

Ready for a simple test? Take it yourself or give it to teachers of your children. Write T (true) or F (false) against each question.

1 We only use 10 per cent of our brain.
2 When we sleep, the brain shuts down.
3 Brain development has finished by the time children reach secondary school.
4 The brains of boys and girls develop at the same rate.
5 Mental capacity is hereditary and cannot be changed by the environment and or experience.
6 If children do not drink sufficient amount of water (that is, six to eight glasses a day) their brains shrink.
7 Children are less attentive after consuming sugary drinks and/or snacks.
8 It has been scientifically proven that fatty acid supplements (omega-3 and omega-6) have positive effect on academic achievement.
9 Children must speak their first language well before a second language is learned. If they do not do so neither language is fully acquired.
10 Knowledge acquired in one language in not accessible in other language.
11 There are critical periods in childhood after which certain things can no longer be learned.
12 Girls are better at reading, but boys dominate mathematics and science.
13 People are either ‘right brained’ or ‘left-brained’ and these differences can help explain individual differences amongst learners.
14 Short bouts of exercise can improve integration of function of left and right hemispheres of the brain.
15 Individuals learn better when they receive information in their preferred learning style (visual, auditory, read-write, kinaesthetic).
16 Environments that are rich in stimulus improve the brains of pre-school children.
17 Exercises that rehearse coordination of motor-perception skills can improve literacy skills.
18 Listening to classical music makes you smarter.
19 Learning problems associated with developmental differences in brain function cannot be remediated by education.
20 Children who receive training to boost emotional intelligence, learn more effectively and mature more quickly.
21 We can train our brain with brain gym and brain games.
22 We think most clearly when we are under pressure.
23 Jiggling your head around gets more blood to the brain and that makes you think more clearly.
24 Young children exposed to rich and diverse stimuli (‘enriched environments’) are more receptive to learning.
25 Bigger brains are brighter.
26 Boys have bigger brains than girls.
27 Circadian rhythms (‘body-clock’) shift during adolescence, causing students to be tired during the first lessons of the school day.
28 Multitasking slows down learning.
29 Dyslexia has little to do with intelligence.
30 Regular aerobic exercise can improve mental function.

Add up your score. Statements 1 to 25 are false; 26 to 30 are true. Did the result surprise you? Don’t worry. Studies tell us that even teachers who were interested in the neuroscience of learning have not done any better on similar quizzes on neuromyths.

© 2015 Surendra Verma