The human brain is a sneaky little organ. It is constantly carrying out processes relevant for both perception and function without letting you know a thing.
In the 1930s Sigmund Freud popularized the notion of the conscious versus the unconscious mind. According to Freud the conscious mind consists of all the mental processes within our awareness. The unconscious mind on the other hand, houses all sorts of things that we have no conscious awareness of.
Freud’s work on the unconscious mind was primarily based on patient analysis and personal insights and, as such, had no true empirical foundation. Flashing forward to the technological and methodological advances of contemporary neuroscience however and much evidence has been produced revealing silent workings of unconscious processing.
Just one example of the unconscious mind at work is seen in cases of blindsight. Blindsight refers to the capacity of certain blind individuals to accurately guess the identity, movement and location of visual stimuli even though they cannot consciously see anything at all.
In an age where a 140 character message can spread around the world like the wildest of wildfires or a pizza-slice can transform into a bikini model with the artistic flare of a photo-shop engineer, we should be adept at closing our ears to hearsay and tattle and all sorts of false truths. Every now and then however the intuitive appeal of certain ideas tend to seep through even the most stringent of BS filters, making their way into a common garden of popular misconceptions.
One such idea is the weed of a notion that one side of our brain is more functionally dominant than the other resulting in individual differences in traits such as creativity, analytic ability or orderliness.
With Facebook statuses sharing results from BuzzFeed brain-dominance tests, professional write-ups detailing the personality traits of those who use one hemisphere of their brain more so than the other, even guidance counsellors basing career recommendations on tests of brain-sidedness, this myth just wont die.
To slice the ever-growing misconception at its stem, it is simply not true that one side of the brain does reason and analytical thinking and the other emotion and creativity. Simply not true. It is not true that the left-hemisphere is 100% responsible for language, or that the right-hemisphere is entirely in charge of creative thought.
The brain does not feel pain within itself.
While there are many pain-sensitive areas surrounding it, the tissue of the brain lacks the pain receptors (or nociceptors) that cause a person to experience the sensation of pain. In fact the brain contains no sensory system of any kind, meaning changes in temperature, pressure or damage to brain tissue cannot be felt by the brain unless they affect an area connected to the nervous system.
Therefore, in actuality, headaches, no matter how severe, do not stem from any disruption in the brain itself. Rather, they occur because of disturbances or abnormalities in the structures surrounding the brain, including the many nerves, muscles, arteries, veins and subcutaneous tissues as well as the eyes, ears, sinuses and the cranium.
In fact a person may never detect the presence of a brain tumor or cyst unless it begins to exert pressure on the surrounding nerve tissue or blood vessels.
You have an entire galaxy suspended within your skull, this galaxy is largely made of active little units known as neurons. You have as inconceivable a number of these neuronal “brain cells” as there are stars in the milkyway and as many connections between them as there are stars in the known universe. Your brains’ neurons and their supporting cells-their glia and astrocytes- continuously interact and integrate, passing neural information through complex sequences of connections in order to form the polyphony of activity that brings about your being. This cranial galaxy is your brain, the realm of your intellect, your imagination and creativity, the kingdom of your consciousness.