Brain Health Quiz

Can you tell fact from myth?

After age 20, thousands of brain cells die every day.

Correct! Wrong!

But don't lose any sleep over it. Many of these cells are replaced, and the brain has as many neurons as there are stars in the Milky Way — about 100 billion — so the loss of a few thousand daily is very small change.

Your brain consumes one-fifth of the total energy that your body expends when resting.

Correct! Wrong!

Your brain burns about 11 calories an hour, just going about its business of keeping you alive and functioning in the world. Although it accounts for 2 percent of body weight, it expends 20 percent of the body's energy.

You're born with all the neurons you'll ever have.

Correct! Wrong!

The growth of new neurons is a lifelong process. In fact, the brain's marvelous ability to "rewire" itself by sprouting neurons and reshaping their connections is at the root of how you learn new information and gain fresh skills throughout your life.

Your brain is exquisitely sensitive to pain.

Correct! Wrong!

Although the meninges encasing the brain and scalp have pain receptors, the brain itself does not. This allows neurosurgeons to operate on patients who are awake and responsive. But why do that? When surgeons probe the brain, patient feedback helps the doctors identify — and stay clear of — crucial sections, such as those for understanding language.

Most people can hold a string of seven random digits in very-short-term, or "working," memory.

Correct! Wrong!

Eight numbers are just too much for most of us. It's no accident that U.S. telephone numbers are seven digits long.

Your brain is 60 percent fat.

Correct! Wrong!

So be sure to eat plenty of the fats that are good for your brain, including omega-3s, found in olive and canola oil, and in cold-water fish, such as sardines, salmon and rainbow trout.

New genetic tests can determine whether you will get Alzheimer's disease.

Correct! Wrong!

Some genetic tests can tell you if you are at higher risk of developing the disease. But many people who are at increased risk do not develop the disease, and some of the people who get the disease don't have the genes linked to higher risk.

Memory loss with age is unavoidable.

Correct! Wrong!

New strategies for boosting mental sharpness are putting this outmoded belief to rest. In their recent book, Super Brain, Deepak Chopra and Rudolph Tanzi argue that practicing mindfulness is a key first step in building durable memories. For instance, if you often misplace your keys, try focusing on where you set them down when you walk in the door. Another strategy: Do more of the things you feel passionate about — because emotions intensify learning and memory.

Most of us use just 10 percent of our brains, but some forms of meditation can unleash the power of the other 90 percent.

Correct! Wrong!

There's not even a shred of truth to the still-prevalent notion that most of us use only 10 percent of our brainpower. In fact, we use almost all of our brains every day.

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