There is no scientific evidence to suggest that we use only 10% of our brains

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Do We Use Only 10% of Our Brains?

Let me state this very clearly: There is no scientific evidence to suggest that we use only 10% of our brains. Let's look at the possible origins of this "10% brain use" statement and the evidence that we use all of our brain. The 10% statement may have been started with a misquote of Albert Einstein or the misinterpretation of the work of Pierre Flourens in the 1800s. It may have been William James who wrote in 1908: "We are making use of only a small part of our possible mental and physical resources" (from The Energies of Men, p. 12).Perhaps it was the work of Karl Lashley in the 1920s and 1930s that started it. Lashley removed large areas of the cerebral cortex (part of the brain) in rats and found that these animals could still relearn specific tasks. We now know that destruction of even small areas of the human brain can have devastating effects on behavior. That is one reason why neurosurgeons (someone who operates on brains) must carefully map the brain before removing brain tissue during operations for epilepsy or brain tumors: they want to make sure that essential areas of the brain are not damaged.



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Where Did the 10% Myth Begin?

Advertisement for satellite TV.

Text of the ad reads: "You only use 11% of its potential.
Ditto (the same, also). Now there's a way to get the most of both."
Advertisement for Hard Disk


Why Does the Myth Continue?

Somehow, somewhere, someone started this myth and the popular media keep on repeating this false statement. Soon, everyone believes the statement regardless of the evidence. I have not been able to track down the exact source of this myth, and I have never seen any scientific data to support it. According to the believers of this myth, if we used more of our brain, then we could perform super memory feats and have other fantastic mental 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.

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 (about 3 lb) and 90% of it was removed, that would leave 140 grams (about 0.3 lb) 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 (related to the brain) 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.

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