Myth B: Excercise and mental function

Educational kinesiology (or Edu-K, also often sold under the brand name of Brain Gym®) draws on ideas about perceptual-motor training, i.e. that learning problems arise from inefficient integration of visual, auditory and motor skills. This idea spawned several training programs to remediate learning difficulties through exercises but these were shown to be ineffective by numerous studies in the 70’s and 80’s . A major review of the theoretical foundations of Brain Gym® and the associated peer-reviewed research studies failed to support the contentions of its promoters .

Is intelligence fixed?

Brain development results from our genes interacting with our experience. That means that our genes have a major influence on outcomes such as our educational achievement, but these outcomes are not biologically programmed by our DNA. It is important for teachers to understand this, because teachers who develop strong beliefs in the role of genetics are more likely to believe their pupils are limited by their biology ( Howard-Jones, et al., 2009). So, there is a relationship between how teachers think about brain development and their attitude towards learners in the classroom.

Additional information

There are currently a number of groups expressing concern about how the knowledge from Learning Sciences research becomes embedded in practice in the classroom. We will be reporting this through the MESH Guides newsletter. To receive this sign up on the front page of

Research on commercial products

This section will be added to as information becomes available from companies and researchers. Zondle’s games for example have been developed taking account of neuroscience research. This will be linked to here when it is published.

See also Neuroscience and Games on YouTube

Myth A: Percentage of the brain in use

Brain scans indicate that it is a myth that we only use a small percentage of our brains during learning.

Background and scope

This MESH Guide introduces some initial concepts that can be applied immediately in your practice, highlights some pitfalls worth avoiding, and identifies sources of further information for finding out more. More detailed Guides on aspects of Neuroscience research and its relevance to teaching will be developed in time.

Strength of evidence and translation rating

The work reported here is an outcome of ongoing research undertaken between academics and teachers through the NeuroEducation Research Network

For further information, see

Invitation to contribute

Teachers and researchers are invited to test out the ideas here and to contribute case studies. If you are interested in inviting others to work with you to test out and scale up research in this area, then email and we will put out a call for co-researchers for you in the next MESH newsletter.

Web and other resources

Neuroscience for Kids

There are very few sites that translate neuroscience into something understandable. Don’t be put off by the title – it’s a useful site for grown up neuroscientists too!

Neuroeducational Network

Lots of free resources and information from our Bristol-based network.

The Brain from Top to Bottom

Neuromyths quiz

Neuromyths often originate from authentic science which has then become misinterpreted or over interpreted. That makes it difficult, but also important, to understand which part is fact and which is fiction.

Carry out this quick TRUE/FALSE survey (from Howard Jones, 2013) on some teachers, learners and friends. You may be surprised how common neuromyths are. The answers are in brackets.

A. We mostly only use 10% of our brains (FALSE - we use all our brains all the time).

B. Exercise can improve mental function (TRUE – see following box).


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