Is It True: That We Use Only 10% Of Our Brain?

Posted on June 16, 2015 in Columns, Is It True, Staff Picks

By Sanskriti Pandey

It’s all about loving the idea of ‘potential’. Sheer, raw potential of more. Oh how we treasure being at the top of things when it comes to existing. After all, we’re humans, the ones with the best of everything. So if someone came along and said to you very matter-of-factly – “Listen, folks, we’re using only 10% of our immensely complex brain, imagine if we could unleash the remaining 90%!” You’d probably like to believe it. But of course, loving the idea of superhuman ability is quite a human thing to do. Which reminds us of films like ‘Lucy‘ with Scarlett Johannson and ‘Limitless‘ with Bradley Cooper. Which then brings us to the question – is it really true? Do we really use only 10% of our brain?

is it true 10 per cent brain

Back in 1908, American psychologist William James mentioned in his book ‘The Energies Of Men‘, that we use only 10% of our mental resources. Now, being the gullible and imaginative people that we are, we deduced his statement to mean that we have an immense unrealised potential waiting to be unchained, sitting right in our heads. But despite the untraceable accurate origin of the suggestion, along came a truckload of scientific evidence that reduced this suggestion to dust. The amount and areas of activity in our brains can be identified using simple brain scans like fMRI, and they show what these rumours and theories fail to evidence – that all areas of our brain are active at one point or the other; even while we’re resting, or are in a state of inactivity. In fact, the myth renders itself very obvious when, in the instance of an accident, the smallest of impacts on someone’s head can majorly or even completely alter functioning and cause serious damage and impairment. If we really had a humongous 90% just lying there idly, wouldn’t you think our body would be smart enough to take a bite of that and solve the problem in a jiffy? In fact, our neurons put all speculation to rest. Our neuron cells colonise any idle and non-functioning cells in the vicinity, and unused brain cells themselves degenerate from lack of use. Because otherwise, what would be the point of evolution? The entire concept rests on evolving to best adapt to changing environments, and ain’t nobody got space for lazy bums, do they?

So, in a nutshell, the possibility that we use only 10% of our brain is… drumroll …a big fat myth. This myth is believed widely and even passed off as fact, which is hardly surprising. But, to go beyond the point of motivating oneself to perform better in life and actually entertain the impossible reasoning of superhuman ability, is good reason to have a hearty laugh. Yes, some, like Einstein, have shown unusual brain capability, and better neural connections is the reason for varying mental capabilities among people. But the so-called ‘gifted’ ones have brains efficiently utilising existing brain cells and not new, unutilised ones. Sorry to burst your happy bubble, human. But you are what you are. Human, with a brain that really only strives to please you a one hundred percent, you know?