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Question: Do We Only Use 10% Of Our Brains?

A short response to a common misconception

Date : 27/02/2013


Author Information

Uploaded by : Liam
Uploaded on : 27/02/2013
Subject : Neuroscience

Answer: No, we use all of it, Even when we`re asleep.

There is a common myth that humans only use a small percentage (usually around 10%) of our brain, and the rest lays dormant. This myth probably came from the misunderstanding of neurological research, the figure of 10% is used to estimate of how many neurones are fireing at any one time, but much of the public took this to mean that we only stand a chance of reaching 10% of our true potential; This, put simply, is nonsense. And heres why;

1) Brain mapping techniques have shown that at least most of, if not all of, the brain has at least one function. Only in cases of serious damage does the brain ever have areas in which no brain activity can be found.

2) Epileptic seizures are caused by too many neurones firing at once, if 100% of our neurones did fire at once then our brain would not function.

3) There are almost no brain regions that can be damaged without the loss of a function.

4) Our brain size comes at a cost, births are made dangerous in cases and we require a prolonged period of reliance due to our premature birth, caused by brain size. The brain is also a huge consumer of resources (20% for 2% of our mass), so if a large part of the brain was unused, it would be an evolutionary advantage to have a smaller brain which is more efficient.

5) Even if we did manage to end up with an oversized, underused brain, brain cells degenerate when not used, meaning any unused areas would be killed off.

This is a particularly interesting myth because it has been disproven for decades, but it is still widely believed. The 2011 film Limitless was built around the very real phenomena of people attempting to `unlock` the potential hidden in the unused parts of the brain. Psychics use the public belief in the myth to explain their "abilities", claiming that they have somehow been able to access the dormant brain which gives rise to their paranormal insights. I even came across the myth in a smoothie book which claimed that somehow a particular combination of fruits would "help unlock the other 90% of our brain". But like many `sciency` sounding phenomena used to sell things, this one is completely untrue.

This resource was uploaded by: Liam

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