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.
Effects Of Technology Advancement On The Brain
Technology has been a boon for our generation however in todays world, technology affects our brain negatively. In many cases, it has been observed that internet/gaming addiction leads to shrinkage of tissue volume in the brain. Apart from this, it leads to anxiety, depression and sometimes to even suicidal thoughts thus disturbing our mental equilibrium. It is even recommended that we should stop relying on machines for basic functions such as calculators or GPS navigators. This way we do not allow our brains to exercise which in turn inhibits in expanding our brains beyond its limits.
Does Anyone Really Believe This
No one seems to know exactly where this idea comes from. One possibility is that it originated from William James, arguably the first experimental psychologist, in the 1890s who had a theory of reserve mental energy. Christian Jarrett explores other possible origins of this myth in his excellent book Great Myths of the Brain.
The notion that we only use 10% of our brains is widely believed. In a recent survey, 43-59% of teachers from around the world reported that they thought this was true. It seems that the 10% myth persists for two primary reasons: firstly, its intuitive appeal. We would all like to believe that we have a huge reserve of untapped brain matter, and teachers would like to believe this of their pupils. Secondly, it is actively propagated in the media, including in two major films of recent years- Lucy with Scarlett Johansson, and Limitless with Bradley Cooper, in which the protagonists unlock their potentials, with dramatic results!
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Do We Really Use Only 10 Percent Of Our Brains
Barry L. Beyerstein of the Brain Behavior Laboratory at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver explains.
Whenever I venture out of the Ivory Tower to deliver public lectures about the brain, by far the most likely question I can expect as the talk winds up is, “Do we really only use 10 percent of our brains?” The look of disappointment that usually follows when I say it isn’t so strongly suggests that the 10-percent myth is one of those hopeful shibboleths that refuses to die simply because it would be so darn nice if it were true. I’m sure none of us would turn down a mighty hike in brainpower if it were attainable, and a seemingly never-ending stream of crackpot schemes and devices continues to be advanced by hucksters who trade on the myth. Always on the lookout for a “feel-good” story, the media have also played their part in keeping the myth alive. A study of self-improvement products by a panel of the prestigious National Research Council, Enhancing Human Performance, surveyed an assortment of the less far-fetched offerings of the “brain booster” genre and came to the conclusion that there is no reliable substitute for practice and hard work when it comes to getting ahead in life. This unwelcome news has done little, however, to dissuade millions who are comforted by the prospect that the shortcut to their unfulfilled dreams lies in the fact that they just haven’t quite found the secret to tap this vast, allegedly unused cerebral reservoir.
Ten Percent Of The Brain Myth
The 10 percent of the brain myth asserts that humans generally use only 10 percent of their brains. It has been misattributed to many celebrated people, notably Albert Einstein. By extrapolation, it is suggested that a person may harness this unused potential and increase intelligence.
Changes in grey and white matter following new experiences and learning have been shown, but it has not yet been proven what the changes are. The popular notion that large parts of the brain remain unused, and could subsequently be “activated”, rests in folklore and not science. Though specific mechanisms regarding brain function remain to be fully describede.g. memory, consciousnessthe physiology of brain mapping suggests that all areas of the brain have a function and that they are used nearly all the time.
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Why We Use More Than 10 Percent Of Our Brain Power
A large body of research has shown humans tend to be cognitive misers . We cant afford to engage in hard thinking all the time because it isnt efficient. In our daily lives, we need to think at different levels in different situations. Too much thinking when engaging in trivial situations may drain cognitive resources needed for more complex decision making efforts. From an evolutionary perspective, cognitive shortcuts help us satisfy needs without over extending our brain resources.
A primary characteristic of well-learned information is the ease at which it is retrieved. As an example, when first learning statistics it is tiring and often a huge headache. As learning progresses, it becomes easier to perform statistical procedures the brain areas involvedand their patterns of communicationhave changed. Producing the right outcome becomes more efficient. These changes lead to the use of less brain resources being dedicated to the task. A consequence of strong learning occurs across learning situations and is represented by strong learning/memory connections . However, being a cognitive miser under some circumstances may lead to poor decision making . Research involving rational thinking/critical thinking provides evidence that it is often this lack of thinkingor cognitive miserlinessthat leads to irrationality. In the cognitive science literature, this is referred to as a processing problem.
Is There Such A Thing As Being Left
Well, your brain definitely has a left side and a right side . Each hemisphere controls certain functions and movement on the opposite side of your body.
Beyond that, the left brain is more verbal. Its analytical and orderly. It takes in the small details, and then puts them together to understand the whole picture. The left brain handles reading, writing, and calculations. Some call it the logical side of the brain.
The right brain is more visual and deals in images more than words. It processes information in an intuitive and simultaneous manner. It takes in the big picture, and then looks at the details. Some say its the creative, artsy side of the brain.
Theres a popular theory that people can be divided into left-brained or right-brained personalities based on one side being dominant. Left-brained people are said to be more logical, and right-brained people are said to be more creative.
After a two-year analysis , a team of neuroscientists found no evidence to prove this theory. Brain scans showed that humans dont favor one hemisphere over the other. Its not likely that the network on one side of your brain is substantially stronger than the opposite side.
As with most things relating to the human brain, its complicated. While each hemisphere has its strengths, they dont work in isolation. Both sides contribute something to logical and creative thinking.
Why Some Humans Smarter Than Others
The next question that rapidly creeps our mind is that, if we all humans use the same amount of brain then how are some of them smarter than the remaining. This question raised the eyebrows of many scientists and soon an explanation was provided, smartness is related to cognitive plasticity which refers to the adaptive changes in patterns of cognition related to brain activity. The study of Einsteins brain proved that it contained the same number of neurons when compared to an average human beings brain. However, it did contain more astrocytes which also acts as a link between two neural cells. Now it is on the diversity of the neurons it contains that provides a reason for why some people are smarter.
An Unlikely Mismanagement Of The Bodys Resources
Today, clinical experience clearly contradicts the 10 percent myth: damage to small areas of the brain, for example caused by a stroke, can have devastating effects on the patients abilities.
Modern brain imaging methods also disprove the idea by showing that much of the brain is active during most tasks.
Also from an evolutionary perspective the 10 percent-myth is unlikely: Brains are expensive, they consume roughly 20-25 percent of the bodys entire energy budget.
If the majority of the brain was left to lie fallow this would be such an outrageous mismanagement of the bodys resources that an organism with this strategy is unlikely to have survived evolutionary pressure.
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Debunking The 10% Myth
- Ph.D., Materials Science and Engineering, Northwestern University
- B.A., Chemistry, Johns Hopkins University
- B.A., Cognitive Science, Johns Hopkins University
You may have heard that humans only use 10 percent of their brain power, and that if you could unlock the rest of your brainpower, you could do so much more. You could become a super genius, or acquire psychic powers like mind reading and telekinesis. However, there is a powerful body of evidence debunking the 10 percent myth. Scientists have consistently shown that humans use their entire brain throughout each day.
Despite the evidence, the 10 percent myth has inspired many references in the cultural imagination. Films like “Limitless” and “Lucy” depict protagonists who develop godlike powers thanks to drugs that unleash the previously inaccessible 90 percent of the brain. A 2013 study showed that about 65 percent of Americans believe the trope, and a 1998 study showed that a full third of psychology majors, who focus on the workings of the brain, fell for it.
All You Need To Know About The 10 Percent Brain Myth In 60 Seconds
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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.
Do We Really Use Only 10 Percent Of Our Brain
Its one of Hollywoods favorite bits of pseudoscience: human beings use only 10 percent of their brain, and awakening the remaining 90 percentsupposedly dormantallows otherwise ordinary human beings to display extraordinary mental abilities. In Phenomenon , John Travolta gains the ability to predict earthquakes and instantly learns foreign languages. Scarlett Johansson becomes a superpowered martial-arts master in Lucy . And in Limitless Bradley Cooper writes a novel overnight.
This ready-made blueprint for fantasy films is also a favorite among the general public. In a survey, 65 percent of respondents agreed with the statement, People only use 10 percent of their brain on a daily basis. But the truth is that we use all of our brain all of the time.
Weve been able to back up these logical conclusions with hard evidence. Imaging techniques, such as positron emission tomography and functional magnetic resonance imaging , allow doctors and scientists to map brain activity in real time. The data clearly shows that large areas of the brainfar more than 10 percentare used for all sorts of activity, from seemingly simple tasks like resting or looking at pictures to more complex ones like reading or doing math. Scientists have yet to find an area of the brain that doesnt do anything.
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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What Can We Do To Improve Our Brains Function
It isnât just older people encountering cognitive decline who should be working to improve their brains, Rebecca says.
âOlder people get the most focus, but thinking skills are important for everyone,â she says. âThe opportunity to improve the health of our brain is there for all of us at any stage of our life, and the earlier in life you start, the better the effects.â
Hereâs what we can all do to optimise the health and function of our brain.
Percentage Of The Brain Used By Einstein
Scientists have been researching for decades to vouch for the percentage of brains, we humans are really able to use. The origin of this myth that humans are only able to use 10% of their brains took from some prevalent theories from the 19th century. And since then it has become a hot topic for some of the science fiction without any scientific credibility. This myth took speed with a common belief that percentage of the brain used by the great scientist Albert Einstein was 13% which is just 3% more utilization than the normal human. He did many amazing scientific discoveries and people thought that if we were able to use 100% of our brains than that would bring wonders to this world.
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Does Alcohol Really Kill Your Brain Cells
Theres no question that alcohol affects the brain in negative ways. It can impair brain function even in the short term. In the longer term, it can lead to serious brain damage. It doesnt actually kill brain cells, though.
Long-term heavy drinking can cause shrinking of the brain and result in deficiencies in white matter. This can lead to:
- slurred speech
- family history of substance abuse
Alcoholics are prone to developing a brain disorder called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. Symptoms include:
- mental confusion
- paralysis of nerves that control eye movement
- muscle coordination problems and difficulty walking
- chronic learning and memory problems
Drinking during pregnancy can affect your babys developing brain, a condition known as fetal alcohol syndrome. Children with fetal alcohol syndrome tend to have smaller brain volume . They can also have fewer brain cells or normally functioning neurons. This can cause long-term behavioral and learning problems.
Alcohol may interfere with the brains ability to grow new brain cells, which is another reason this myth may persist.
Why is it so easy to believe these myths about the brain? Theres a grain of truth running through some of them. Others seep into our own brains through repetition, and we fail to question their validity.
If you previously bought into some of these brain myths, take heart. You werent alone.
Why Does The Myth Continue
Somehow, somewhere, someonestarted this myth and the popular media keep on repeating this falsestatement . Soon, everyone believes the statementregardless of the evidence. I have not been able to track down the exactsource of this myth, and I have never seen any scientific data to supportit. According to the believers of this myth, if we used more of ourbrain, then we could perform super memory feats and have other fantasticmental abilities – maybe we could even move objects with a single thought. Again, I do not know of any data that would support any of this.
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