As a result of the misinformation presented by various media, many people maintain misconceptions about the brain and brain function. The problem may be compounded by textbooks for middle school students that present little, if any, scientific information on the brain as the organ that controls human behavior. As a result, students may build their understanding of the brain on “fictions” rather than facts. The constructivist learning model holds that when students dispel their own misconceptions, they are more open to constructing a correct understanding of the subject. The following list of commonly held misconceptions about the brain, followed by correct information about each concept, should help teachers address these issues in their classrooms.
Does the brain really lose plasticity ...?
No, it does not.The idea that the brain does not change after growth ceases may be the greatest misconception that students have. In actuality, the brain changes throughout life. During embryonic development and early life, the brain changes dramatically. Neurons form many new connections, and some neurons die. However, scientists have discovered that changes in the brain are not restricted to early life. Even in the adult brain, neurons continue to form new connections, strengthen existing connections, or eliminate connections as we continue to learn. Recent studies have shown that some neurons in the adult brain retain the ability to divide. Therefore damaged neurons have some capability to regenerate if the conditions are right.
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