Lucy Is Wrong We Use Way More Than 10% Of Our Brains
I know I haven’t earned my Ph.D. yet, Professor, but I beg to differ. You see, we all access 100% of our brains every day. And we don’t have to be telekinetic or memorize an entire deck of cards to do it.
In the film, which opens next Friday, Scarlett Johansson’s character Lucy is forced to work as a drug smuggler in a Taiwanese mob. The drug they’ve implanted into her body leaks into her system, allowing her to “access 100%” of her brain. Among other things, Lucy can move objects with her mind, choose not to feel pain, and memorize copious amounts of information.
In a way, the idea that we only use 10% of our brains is rather inspiring. It may motivate us to try harder or tap into some mysterious, intact reservoir of creativity and potential. There are even products that promise to unlock that other 90%.
As ludicrous as the claim is, however, 2/3 of the public and half of science teachers still believe the myth to be true. The notion is so widespread that when University College London neuroscientist Sophie Scott attended a first aid course, her instructor assured the class that head injuries weren’t dangerous because “90% of the brain do anything.”
You may have played God in a movie, Morgan Freeman, but clearly you need a primer on how your most incredible creation-the brain-functions!
Originally published at The Conversation UK.
Is It True That You Get New Brain Wrinkles When You Learn Something
Not all brains are wrinkled. In fact, most animals have fairly smooth brains. Some exceptions are primates, dolphins, elephants, and pigs, which also happen to be some of the more intelligent animals.
The human brain is exceptionally wrinkled. Thats probably why people conclude that we gain more wrinkles as we learn new things. But thats not how we acquire brain wrinkles.
Your brain starts developing wrinkles before youre even born. The wrinkling continues as your brain grows, until youre about 18 months old.
Think of the wrinkles as folds. The crevices are called sulci and the raised areas are called gyri. The folds allow room for more gray matter inside your skull. It also decreases wiring length and improves overall cognitive functioning.
Human brains vary quite a bit, but theres still a typical pattern to brain folds. Research shows that not having the major folds in the right places could cause some dysfunction.
- motivate you to do things you probably wanted to do anyway
Learning entirely new things is far more complicated.
Say youve been studying a foreign language. Theres only a small chance that listening to vocabulary words in your sleep can help you remember them a bit better. A 2015 study found that this is true only under the best of circumstances. The researchers noted that you cant learn new things during your sleep.
Humans Already Use Way Way More Than 10% Of Their Brains
Its a complex, constantly multi-tasking network of tissuebut the myth persists.
By now, perhaps youve seen the trailer for the new sci-fi thriller Lucy. It starts with a flurry of stylized special effects and Scarlett Johansson serving up a barrage of bad-guy beatings. Then comes Morgan Freeman, playing a professorial neuroscientist with the obligatory brown blazer, to deliver the films familiar premise to a full lecture hall: It is estimated most human beings only use 10 percent of the brains capacity. Imagine if we could access 100 percent. Interesting things begin to happen.
Johansson as Lucy, who has been kidnapped and implanted with mysterious drugs, becomes a test case for those interesting things, which seem to include even more impressive beatings and apparently some kind of Matrix-esque time-warping skills.
Of course, the idea that you only use 10 percent of your brain is, indeed, 100 hundred percent bogus. Why has this myth persisted for so long, and when is it finally going to die?
Unfortunately, not any time soon. A survey last year by The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research found that 65 percent of Americans believe the myth is true, 5 percent more than those who believe in evolution. Even Mythbusters, which declared the statistic a myth a few years ago, further muddied the waters: The show merely increased the erroneous 10 percent figure and implied, incorrectly, that people use 35 percent of their brains.
Read Also: How To Shrink A Brain Tumor Naturally
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.
How Can We Unlock The 90% Of Our Brain That We Never Use
Category: Biology Published: December 19, 2012
Healthy humans use all of their brain. There is no part of the brain that goes unused. Certain tasks work certain parts of the brain more, but they all play important roles, as explained by neurobiologist Dr. Eric Chudler. Brain maps, as found in modern anatomy books, indicate that each part of the brain has a specific function essential to a healthy human. If there were a part of your brain that really went unused, then you could safely damage that part in an accident with no ill effects. But decades of medical records show that damage to any part of the brain has severe effects. If 90% of the brain were not used, then 90% of the brain tumors would cause no problem. Imagine brain doctors telling 90% of their cancer patients, “I have good news and bad news. Bad news: you have a brain tumor. Good news: it’s in the part of the brain that you will never use.” The thought is absurd.
Recommended Reading: If You Hold A Sneeze Does It Kill Brain Cells
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.
Keep The Brain Active
The more a person uses their brain, the better their mental functions become. For this reason, brain training exercises are a good way to maintain overall brain health.
A recent study conducted over 10 years found that people who used brain training exercises reduced the risk of dementia by 29 percent.
The most effective training focused on increasing the brains speed and ability to process complex information quickly.
There are a number of other popular myths about the brain. These are discussed and dispelled below.
Recommended Reading: Cebria Ingredients List
How Much Of The Brain Do Humans Actually Use
When talking about human organs it doesnt get much more complex then the brain. The brain is a mechanism humans use to read, write, process information, express emotions, and retaining memories. Theres no question that the brain is an extremely powerful and intricate organ but how much of the brain do we actually use?
Im sure at one point or another everyone has heard the myth that humans only have access and control of up to 10 percent of their brains. Keeping this in mind I always wondered what would happen if a Human gained access to the other 90 percent of their brain. Would they be able to read minds? Could they suddenly have the power of telekinesis, or would their IQ break world records? Unfortunately this myth couldnt more wrong. So whose to blame for this 10 percent myth that got so many average peoples hopes up. William James was an american psychologist who published a book called the The Energies Of Men. In this book he stated without any scientific proof that humans are only tapping into a very small part of the brains mental and physical resources. This claim is what eventually started the 10 percent myth.
Dr. Barry Gordon a professor of neurology at the School of Medicine and professor of cognitive science at the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences had this to say.
Your Brain Uses 20% Of The Oxygen And Blood In Your Body
Your brain needs a constant supply of oxygen. As little as five minutes without oxygen can cause some brain cells to die, leading to severe brain damage. Also, the harder you think, the more oxygen and fuel your brain will use from your blood up to 50%.
Every minute, 750-1,000 milliliters of blood flows through the brain. This is enough to fill a bottle of wine or liter bottle of soda.
You May Like: Roy Jones Jr Brain Damage
Headaches Are Caused By A Chemical Reaction
Chemical activity in your brain, the nerves or blood vessels surrounding your skull, or the muscles of your head and neck can play a role in primary headaches. Serotonin is a chemical necessary for communication between nerve cells. When serotonin or estrogen levels change, the result for some is a headache or migraine. Serotonin levels may affect both sexes, while fluctuating estrogen levels affect women only.
The Human Brain Contains Approximately One Hundred Billion Neurons
This is about the same as the number of stars in the Milky Way galaxy. These neurons are connected by trillions of connections, or synapses. Experts call this a neuron forest. Information runs between these neurons in your brain for everything we see, think, or do. These neurons move information at different speeds. The fastest speed for information to pass between neurons is about 250 mph. That being said, neurons only make up 10% of the brain.
You May Like: Jigsaw Puzzles Good For Brain
Cholesterol Is Key To Learning And Memory
The brain has a higher cholesterol content than any other organ. In fact, about 25% of the bodys cholesterol resides within the brain. The brain is highly dependent on cholesterol, but its cholesterol metabolism is unique. Because the blood-brain barrier prevents brain cells from taking up cholesterol from the blood, the brain must produce its own cholesterol. The brains cholesterol is much more stable than the cholesterol in other organs, but when it breaks down, it is recycled into new cholesterol right in the brain.
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.
You May Like: Dopamine And Dementia
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.
What Does It Mean To Use Only 10% Of Your 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.
You May Like: Does Prevagen Help With Memory Loss
How Much Of Our Brain Do We Use
Unfortunately, the idea we only use 10 percent of our brain is almost certainly false.
Here are four good reasons :
Therefore, we must use way more than 10 percent.
All You Need To Know About The 10 Percent Brain Myth In 60 Seconds
To revist this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories.
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.
Don’t Miss: How Do Puzzles Help The Brain
Reading Out Loud Uses Different Brain Circuits Than Reading Silently
Reading aloud promotes brain development. Children first learn to read by speaking words out loud. Once that knowledge is established, then they learn to read to themselves. Its indeed one of the strange facts about the brain because we usually teach our children to read and talk politely. But to promote brain development in your child, you should read and talk aloud in front of them.