Myth or Fact? #4 - We only use 10% of our Brain

in science •  3 years ago  (edited)


The human brain is responsible for the way we act and think, that’s what most of us know. On the other side we yet do only know little about the brain, there are many open questions scientists try to answer. You might have seen the movie “Limitless” or “Lucy”. Both explain that humans only use ten percent of their brain and the other ninety percent are idle, not used at all. If we however were able to use more than just ten percent of our brain we would have a significant increase of mental performance.

Is this true? Is our brain almost unused and can we change this to improve our lives? We will investigate this myth and show if it is whether fact or fiction.

A quick introduction to the brain


The brain is located in the skull and is covered by a cerebral membrane. With a mass of only 1.4 kg it’s relatively light and compared to the body's total weight it makes only two percent of it. While the mass takes only two percent the energy consumption takes around twenty percent of our complete energy usage. Together with the spinal cord the brain forms the central nervous system. Perception, memory, coordination of the body and many other important functions are regulated by our brain, similar to a control center. In order to be able to receive and process information our brain is made of blood vessels and billions of neurons. The following illustrations shows the general structure of the brain which can be divided into two, left and right, hemispheres.

Fig.1 Animation of the human brain. Credits

Nature is pretty clever. In the course of evolution the brain developed to a high functional organ which made it possible to distinguish us from other organisms. The evolution of our brain followed the state of lowest energy in order to perform economically. Like mentioned the brain consumes about twenty percent of our total energy. If the brain uses only ten percent it does mean that the other ninety percent are actually unfavorable or to put it into other words: waste. Evolutionary it doesn’t make sense to build such a large area without a function. And here we come to the answer to our question. The human brain uses its whole capacity and not only ten percent. Let’s have a look at why this is the only logical way.

Different regions – different procession


As mentioned we use our brain completely. Certain regions of our brain perform different functions, these regions spread all across the complex organ. A little example of where certain tasks are located can be found on the picture below.

Fig.2 Functions of different brain regions. Credits

What does that mean to us? Whenever we do a certain activity different regions are used. We might not use all regions at the same time but generally we do use our completely brain and not only ten percent of it. If we would contentiously use all brain regions simultaneously, we definitely would have an overload of information we could not process. In a recent post I explained how we can detect certain regions that are responsible for specific functions. One way to display active brain areas is the functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). It uses the technique of MRI and is able to detect refined distinctions in blood flow. When a brain region is active more blood flows. With help of the fMRI it is possible to see what region is activated when we are happy for instance.

Fig.3 fMRI scans of the human brain. Credits

Recent studies showed that regions that are not used can adapt their functions to those of similar regions. Scientists found out that the regions for sight of blind people just changed and took different functions. The phenomena that our brain can change is called neuroplasticity. Simplified one can say that habits cause our neurons to build paths. Every time we do a certain activity this connection between the neurons becomes stronger. The older we become the stronger these neuronal connections. Relearning things is just because of this fact hard to most of us because our brain uses the most “comfortable” path and building new connections is unfavorable. So when someone tells you, you are too old to change your habits: it’s not true. Is just becomes harder. There is a point I want to add to the fMRI images. It might seem that only the colored region is active. This is only partly true. The brain is always active but the regions that are not in use are in standby, however register signals. They are not marked because their value were set to 0 as a reference.

This was just another myth we uncovered. We use our complete brain and not only ten percent.


I hope you enjoyed this episode of Myth or Fact. The next one will follow tomorrow.
-Tim
Source of experiments:
Visual Cortex Activity in Early and Late Blind People

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That means we are less smart. Oh we could do so much more if we used the rest of our brains. We are already using it, that's how smart you are.

The brain has great potential. The real question is not if ones brain is functioning or being used, it is how and why is it being used?
This dictates the outcome and is why it appears brilliant people are using more of their brain than idiots.
The brilliant ones are simply applying and using what is available to them for purpose and conscious living.
The function of the brain can rewire, adapt, evolve, reprogram.
Doing this consciously has extraordinary potential~*~

I am excited to see what new insights will follow in the next decades. In terms of AI this will be breathtaking

Yes indeed!

The better we understand how our own brain functions and thinks, the more successful we will be in life. The tv show "Brain Games" has helped me immensely. I am no longer deceived by what my brain perceives (somewhat... :-) )

Thanx for writing on a subject I have been exploring lately. To keep it short, I'll just say: I agree with you for the most part. We use much more than 10% of our brain - just not for thinking. Our body has many functions that the brain controls and it takes a lot of brain power. There are also some regions that are re-usable to adapt to our physical disabilities.

yes, we enjoed. Give us more interesting facts/

I surely will do :)

very interesting your post, very explicit and didactic, either. as nothing that science can understand, congratulations and thank you very much

I'm glad to see you enjoyed reading it. Thank you for the positive feedback jlufer.

3 times in row wrong, when will be a myth true? JK nice post as always. I am looking forward for the next myth.

Never, otherwise it is called a fact ;)

Who knows! Maybe I prove that the world is flat?

I am waiting for the flat/not flat earth episode!

Just try... ;)

I bet there people on earth that still believe. Oh and don't forgot the hollow earth

Of course... Some of them are even on steemit ^^

I didn't understand the question...

hehe, thanks nice post...

Hey majes!
To make it short: the myth here is that humans only use 10% of their brain which is simply wrong.
Thanks for reading it

Yeah, I was making a funny...

I do think some people tend to use even less than 10%.

But I agree it is a myth :)

What did we learn majes? We use all of ...
Just kidding! :D I know what you mean, there are days I feel like I don't use my brain at all. Don't we all have these days?

I sure do :)

nice one tim...its been a wile you started to make sense..but i still think that man has not fully uncover the capacity of our brains.

Paths made by brain are made by white cells in the brain which make it possible for the electricity to flow in our brain and have access to our gray cells which contain our memories and our knowledge.
Nice posts I only come to steemit for your posts :)