DEBUNKING MYTHS ABOUT THE BRAIN

Reference: Feldman Barrett, L. (2020). Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain. Boston, MA: Mariner’s Books

THE BRAIN IS NOT FOR THINKING

  • The brain’s most important job is not emotion, rationality or imagination; it is to keep you alive and well by controlling and managing your energy budget.
  • Called allostasis, body budgeting requires the brain to predict the amount of energy needed based on past actions.
  • To paraphrase neuroscientist Dr. Lisa Feldman Barret “Everything your brain creates, from memories to hallucinations, from ecstasy to shame, is part of this [body budgeting] mission.”

“LEFT” BRAIN VS “RIGHT” BRAIN IS A METAPHOR

  • The notion that the left brain is rational while the right brain is creative is actually based on a metaphor,; it was never to be taken literally.
  • The reason being that the brain functions as a single unit, not as distinctive parts with their own unique functions. Indeed, the brain is a network of neurons that communicate with one another from various parts of the brain.
  • Think about it, if brain functions were strictly localized, then someone with a stroke for example in the left side of the brain would never be able to speak again!

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A LIMBIC SYSTEM DEDICATED TO EMOTION PROCESSING

  • What is erroneously called “limbic system” actually refers to limbic circuitry, which is associated with many vital functions including the autonomic system, immune system, and endocrine system.
  • Emotion processing is only one of many other contributions of those neurons, as they connect to various brain structures from the amygdala to the cerebral cortex.

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