Friday, May 13, 2022

Do We Only Use 10 Of The Brain

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What Does It Mean To Use Only 10% Of Your Brain

Do We Really Use Only 10% Of Our Brain?

What data were used to come up with the number – 10%? Does this mean that you would be just fine if 90% of your brain was removed? If the average human brain weighs 1,400 grams and 90% of it was removed, that would leave 140 grams of brain tissue. That’s about the size of a sheep’s brain. It is well known that damage to a relatively small area of the brain, such as that caused by a stroke, may cause devastating disabilities. Certain neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s Disease, also affect only specific areas of the brain. The damage caused by these conditions is far less than damage to 90% of the brain.

Sheep Brain

Do Humans Only Use 10% Of Our Brains

The belief holds that deep inside each of us, there is an Einsteinian genius waiting to be unleashed. If we could only gain admission to the unused 90% of our brains,;time travel and interstellar space travel would soon be within our technological grasp. We could solve the great problems of the world and live in a utopian paradise. All of our current human deficiencies are due to the fact that we can only access 10% of our brains. Our destiny is that of super-humans who have not yet achieved our potential, but until then, we remain entangled in our idiocy.

Perhaps this is what many of us would like to believe, yet the belief that we only use 10% of our brain is nothing more than a widespread myth. The truth is that our brains are constantly active, even when were asleep or doing simple tasks. In a 2012 interview with CBS affiliate WCCO, University of Minnesota neurologist Dr. Michael Howell commented on the oft repeated urban legend, This is a myth that does not go away, he said, Youre using far more than that. Maybe not all of it, but the vast majority of it.

It has been suggested that;if we were only using 10% of our brains, we would be near death or in a coma. Even when a small area of the brain is damaged, such as in a stroke, the consequences can be disastrous to an individuals behavior and abilities.

Action Potentials Of Neurons

Action potentials are the electrical impulses that travel through a neuron so that information can be transmitted to the next neuron. Action potentials only fire when there is enough stimulus to reach a threshold. It works in an all or none fashion, meaning that if it doesnt reach the threshold, the action potential wont fire. This is helpful because it ensures that all of our neurons arent firing at the same time- that would just be too much activity for the brain! But even when neurons are at rest, theyre still receiving information from other neurons. So essentially, the neurons are never inactive.

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How Much Of Our Brain Do We Actually Use Then

Brain imaging research has revealed that while the whole brain is always active, certain networks dial up or dial down depending on what weâre doing or trying to achieve.

âThe entire brain is active all the time â even when weâre asleep, weâre using our whole brain,â says Rebecca.

âWhen youâre at rest, activity in a network of brain regions called the default mode network is dialled up,â Rebecca explains. âIf you jump up to kick a football around, that network will dial down, and your motor coordination networks will dial up. Itâs a dynamic balance of activity between our brain networks; itâs not like thereâs 90% waiting to be used.â

That doesnât mean that we canât enhance our brainpower, however. âWe have far more power to change our brains than was ever thought possible, and thatâs very exciting,â Rebecca says. âHow we live our lives, indisputably, has a profound impact on the structure of our brain, the function of our brain and the health of our brain.â

âThe brain makes up just 2-3% of our body weight but takes up 20% of our daily energy,â says Rebecca.

What Percentage Of Our Brain Do We Use

Do We Only Use 10% Of Our Brain? « Adafruit Industries ...

How much of our brain do we use? Certainly way more than the 10 percentage points suggested by the myth and heres why

What percentage of our brain do we use?

Unfortunately, it is a pure myth that we only use 10 percent of our brain.

The idea that we only use 10 percent of our brain is probably such an enduring mind myth;because its comforting to think we have spare capacity.

The unused 90 percent of our brain could take up the slack after brain injury or offer the possibility for miraculous self-improvement.

This flexible factoid has been used not only to sell products to enhance our brains performance, but also by psychics like Yuri Geller to explain mystical cutlery bending powers.

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The Using Only 10 Percent Of Your Brain Myth

The human brain is complex and still quite mysterious. It is perhaps for this reason why so many myths about how the brain works persist, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary. One of the most common of these myths is often referred to as the 10% of brain myth, or the idea that human beings really only fully utilize a tiny percentage of their brain’s power and potential.

The popular and widely-spread belief that we only use or have access to 10% of our brain’s power is often used to speculate about the extent of human abilities if only we could utilize our brain’s full capacity. People often experience the shortcomings of their own mental abilities, such as failing to understand a complex math problem or forgetting some vital piece of information. It is perhaps because of this that people frequently feel they possess some untapped potential, if only they could unlock that inaccessible portion of their mind.

In reality, the 10% claim is 100% myth. You use all of your brain. The only instances where there are unused regions of the brain are those in which brain damage or disease has destroyed certain regions.

A Myth Repeated By Pop

One of the oldest and most pervasive brain-myths is that we only use a fraction of our brain and that we can develop exceptional cognitive abilities if we learn to tap into the unused parts.

The movie Lucy by Luc Besson featuring Scarlett Johansson is a perfect example of the myth in action.

Its exact origin is unknown but like many brain-myths it may have started with the overinterpretation of real experimental findings: In the and 19th and early 20th century scientists found that large parts of an animals brain could be removed without a noticeable effect on behaviour.

This led the scientists to believe that a small part of the brain was enough for mental faculties to work.

Today we believe that the scientists did not test the animals thorough enough to notice all the effects their experiments had on the animals behaviour, but their findings may have started the believe that much of the brain lays unexplored.

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Where Did The Myth Come From

No one is really sure where the myth actually originated from. There have been many theories when it comes to the brain, some sounding much crazier than others. So its kind of hard to pinpoint exactly which crazy idea the myth came from, but here are a few theories.

In the early 1800s, scientists thought that brain functions were located in specific parts;of the brain. Scientists Franz Joseph Gall and Johann Spurzheim brought up phrenology, or the idea that bumps on the skull indicate human behaviors and characteristics. However, some scientists disagreed with their theory, and instead argued that the brain worked as a whole, even though different parts of the brain had different functions. This idea was known as equipotentiality. Scientists tried to prove this theory by removing parts of the brain and observing that the deficits that occurred were more prominent when more of the brain was removed. But this idea remained in debate for many years, and many think that this debate might have sparked the myth somewhere along the way.

All You Need To Know About The 10 Percent Brain Myth In 60 Seconds


The new Luc Besson movie Lucy, starring Scarlett Johansson, opens tomorrow in theaters countrywide. It’s based on the immortal myth that we use only 10 percent of our brains. Johansson’s character is implanted with drugs that allow her to access 100 percent of her brain capacity. She subsequently gains the ability to learn Chinese in an instant, beat up bad guys, and throw cars with her mind . Morgan Freeman plays neuroscientist Professor Norman, who’s built his career around the 10 percent claim. “It is estimated most human beings use only 10 percent of the brain’s capacity,” he says, “Imagine if we could access 100 percent.”

As it happens, I’ve written a book all about brain myths . I thought I’d use what I learned to give you a 60-second explainer on the 10 percent myth.

Great Myths of the Brain, by Christian Jarrett, was published in 2014. .

No, the 2011 movie Limitless, starring Bradley Cooper was based on the same idea, except the precise figure was placed at 20 percent. Cooper’s character takes a pill that lets him access the full 100 percent. Both the 1991 film Defending Your Life and Flight of the Navigator include claims that most of us use a fraction of our brains. The myth is also invoked in the TV series Heroes, to explain why some people have special powers.


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Do We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains: A Misconception Or An Extraordinary Belief

While talking about why this claim could make sense we need to know that one reason this myth has endured is that it has been adopted by psychics and other paranormal pushers to explain psychic powers. The reason its used for psychic reasoning is that they easily get away with saying, since most of the people only use 10 percent of their brains, psychics have the special ability to use more than 10 percent, this is the reason they have their ability in the first place. Though its a convincing argument, it fails to provide a causal relationship. Even though this would have been a good argument for the claim, more scientific advances and reasoning has debunked this theory. First of all, many brain scans have shown that most of the regions of the brain are active during the day to day routine. We also know that if this belief was true then there wouldnt be any significant difference in people who face brain damages, due to accidents. We know this because no matter what part of the brain is damaged it still causes a difference in memory. There is a default in logic too with this theory, we wouldnt have such a large brain if we were only allowed to use a small portion of it.


Hawkins, Sara. How Free Speech and Social Media Fit Together. Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner, 20 Jan. 2019,

The Myth Pervades Is Often Repeated By Self

From the outside, the brain is rather unremarkable: a lump of jelly-like fat weighing in at just under 1.4 kg.

Yet, it is basis for all our thoughts, feelings and actions and it has been called the most complex object in the known universe due to its network of 86 billion interconnected brain cells.

Because of that the brain fascinates us. We often look to neuroscience for explanations that help us figure out why we are the way we are.

Today arguments about how the brain works are drawn into discussions on education, personality, consumer behavior, and more.

But how much of that pop-culture knowledge is actually supported by science?

Unfortunately, some of the most wide-held beliefs are closer to fiction than to fact and in the following article and two more to come, I will debunk three myths about the brain.

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Thoughts On Do We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains: A Misconception Or An Extraordinary Belief

  • loxley.6

    I think this belief is notable because it evolved out of scientific research. Most of these beliefs seem to sprout from attempts to rationalize seemingly extraordinary phenomenon, but this one comes out of the scientific attempt at an explanation. It feels like that is a relatively uncommon origin can you think of any other extraordinary beliefs that stem from scientific research? The closest ones that come to mind for me are those about pharmaceuticals and HIV/AIDS and cancer being manufactured by the U.S. government.

  • blevins.173

    This belief is SO popular! As soon as I saw that this had been posted, I was so frustrated with myself because of the immense popularity associated with it ! There have been a handful of movies that centers on this premise of only using 10% of our brains. One movie that comes to mind is Lucy, which came out in 2014 with Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman. Your point that you cited from that stated, we wouldnt have such a large brain if we were only allowed to use a small portion of it is so crucial! It guides one to really think about our brains and our capacity for learning skills, and performing every day tasks. Im also very fascinated with Neuroscience so this was a very easy read for me. Thank you for your post!!

  • john.177

    Thanks a lot, I know right the way movies and documentaries use this myth has kind of blown it way out of proportion. Especially when this kind of visual media portrays is, it influences people largely.

  • Where Does The 10 Percent Myth Come From

    Most Amazing Facts about the Human Brain. Why do we use ...

    Its not clear how this myth began, but there are several possible sources.

    In an article published in a 1907 edition of the journal Science, psychologist and author William James argued that humans only use part of their mental resources. However, he did not specify a percentage.

    The figure was referenced in Dale Carnegies 1936 book How to Win Friends and Influence People. The myth was described as something the authors college professor used to say.

    There is also a belief among scientists that neurons make up around 10 percent of the brains cells. This may have contributed to the 10 percent myth.

    The myth has been repeated in articles, TV programs, and films, which helps to explain why it is so widely believed.

    Like any other organ, the brain is affected by a persons lifestyle, diet, and the amount that they exercise.

    To improve the health and function of the brain, a person can do the following things.

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    Where Did The 10% Myth Begin

    The 10% statement mayhave been started with a misquote of Albert Einstein or themisinterpretation of the work of Pierre Flourens in the 1800s. It mayhave been William James who wrote in 1908: “We are making use of only asmall part of our possible mental and physical resources” . Perhaps it was the work of Karl Lashley in the 1920s and1930s that started it. Lashley removed large areas of the cerebral cortexin rats and found that these animals could still relearn specific tasks. We now know that destruction of even small areas of the human braincan have devastating effects on behavior.That is one reason why neurosurgeons must carefully map the brain beforeremoving brain tissue during operations for epilepsy or brain tumors: they want to make sure that essential areas of the brain are notdamaged.

    Why Do We Think We Only Use 10%

    We can actually kind of pinpoint this. For starters, only using 10% of your brain is a really good excuse when you feel dumb. Because of course you did something stupid, youre not even using your entire brain!

    A 1907 edition of the Science journal had an article published by William James. He argued that we dont use all of our brainsbut he didnt say how much we did or didnt use.;

    Heres the wack stuff though. Remember that 100 billion neuron figure for the brain? Thats actually a figure most textbooks just cite without a source. Approximations have been made as early as 1988, but no direct estimates for how many neurons our brains have would emerge until 2009.;

    We do know that we have about 10 times more glial cells than we do neurons. Which, at first blush tells us neurons make up only about 10% of the brains cells, and thus, we only use 10% of the brain.;

    Speaking of brains, use all of it to figure out this word ladder.

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    Roots Of The 10% Brain Myth

    The roots of this myth are very difficult to discern, probably because there are so many different, diffuse stories about its origin.

    One apocryphal story is that Einstein once explained his brilliance by saying he used more than 10 percent of his brain, compared to the rest of us mere mortals .

    Despite probably being based on a misquote, the repeating of this story cant have hurt the 10 percent brain myths power.

    Perhaps some of the earliest roots of the idea that we only use 10 percent of our brain comes from work by physiologists in the 1870s.

    They routinely applied electrical currents to the brain to see which muscles moved.

    They found that large parts of the human brain could be zapped without any corresponding bodily twitching.

    This led them to dub parts of the brain silent.

    But they didnt mean silent in the sense of inactive, just that it didnt make any muscles move.

    Of course this didnt stop the phrase being misinterpreted.

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