The long awaited second part of this series of posts is finally here! So without further delay, here are another three widespread neuromyths, explained by our guest blogger Philippe Lacroix.
Neuromyth N°4: « There are three styles of learning »
This myth, which particularly spread among teachers, claims every learner has a preferred way of learning: visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. These preferences, when they manifest, are really just work habits, and science shows that conforming to them adds no benefits.
No matter one’s potential preference, man is first and foremost a visual being. It has been proven that adding an image to an explanation facilitates learning for everyone; multiplying sensory modalities facilitates attention and memorisation in all individuals.
Recent reflections by specialists in adult education have questioned this whole « styles of learning » issue as well.
Neuromyth N°5: « Listening to Mozart makes you intelligent »
This myth is based on a scientific “bug”. In 1973, American researchers published results in the prestigious Nature review, indicating an increase in IQ after listening to one of Mozart’s sonatas. In this study, three groups of adults were put through a battery of cognitive IQ tests before and after listening to either Mozart, a relaxing tune, or nothing at all. The “Mozart” group showed a slight increase in spatial reasoning skills, but that effect only lasted a few minutes. The other tests showed nothing, and though these results were quite preliminary, they travelled around the globe.
It took more than fifteen years to face the facts: though rigorous, the initial study had produced erroneous results. In the meantime, however, the myth was embedded in people’s minds, and certified “Mozart effect” products had flooded the global educational market, claiming to develop young children’s intelligence, even in their mother’s womb. It should be noted that the study itself was limited to adults.
Even though the “Mozart effect” turned out to be a scientific flop, recent research suggests that studying music during childhood enhances cognition (White-Schwoch, 2013).
Neuromyth N°6: « So-called “Brain Gym®” improves learning »
The Brain Gym® programme claims to improve the transfer of information between the two halves of the brain through a series of exercises. For example, it tells its members to breathe through the left nostril to stimulate the right side of the brain, which has no scientific basis.
Created by a British teacher, and sold in eighty countries, this method wrongly claims neuroscience as its foundation. Despite scientific campaigns disproving it, the programme still attracts educators in many countries. It is worth noting that its authors have removed the most absurd assertions from the most recent edition.
Even though physical exercise of any kind has been shown to be beneficial for the brain, Brain Gym® has been unanimously condemned by the scientific community.
This article was based on the book “Neuro Learning: Les neurosciences au service de la formation”, a great book that “constitutes a pedagogical exploit in the measure wherein it transforms an eminently disruptive process into a group of new possibilities for apprenticeship”.
Medjad, N., Gil, P., & Lacroix, P. (2017). Neuro Learning: Les neurosciences au service de la formation. Paris: Eyrolles.