Friday, November 7, 2008

Using 10% of Your Brain

Have you ever heard that you only use 10% of your brain? Do you think smarter people use more of their brain? We are all familiar with geniuses like Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton. Child prodigies also amaze us. Mozart could read and write music, play the keyboard and violin when he was only five years old. Savants are people whose brains can do seemingly impossible mathematical calculations at breakneck speeds — like figuring out cube roots faster than the rest of us can do on a calculator. If science could only figure out how the rest of us can use that unused portion of our brain, then maybe all of us could have superhuman mental powers.

Some people even think that mental telepathy and other psychic powers come from the other 90% of the brain. Because of this, these folks believe that we all have potential psychic powers. Bookstore shelves are crowded with books purporting to show people how they can use their latent psychic powers by developed the idling part of their brains.

The truth is this notion of using only a small fraction of our brain is a myth. Nevertheless, it is a strong myth because, to most people, the brain is quite mysterious. We all struggle with the stubbornness of our brains to work like we want them to. We forget simple things like someone's name, where we laid our keys, important meetings and multitude of other things we expect our brains to accomplish.

What scientists have discovered is that we use every part of our brain. In other words, all parts are working most of the time. This does not mean all parts of the brain are working all the time. It is true that when we are sleeping or resting, our brain may only be using ten percent of its capacity. That is like a car engine idling at a red light. There is still plenty of unused power that can be called upon when needed.

Moreever, within a twenty-four period, you will probably use all of your brain at some time. The brain is what drives the rest of our body. It has been determined that the brain consumes more energy per weight than any other part of our body. It only accounts for three percent of our body's weight (it weighs about three pounds). Even so, it consumes twenty percent of our body's energy.

Even when we sleep and are unconscious our brain is highly active. Those parts of our brain that control complex thinking and self-awareness are still on and functioning. Even such a simple act as getting a cup of coffee in the morning creates a tremendous outburst of activity within our entire brain in only a few seconds.

With all of our knowledge and continuing research of our brains, scientists are still puzzled about consciousness. No one area of the brain can be found to be responsible for this amazing feat called consciousness. There are also many other mysteries yet to be solved about how our brain works. As someone has said, it's not that we use ten percent of our brain, the real truth is that we only understand about ten percent of how it all works.

For more information on this topic you can go to the University of Washington website

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Michael said...

I wonder where the 10% myth originated from.

Dr. Terry Sandbek said...

Where did the 10% myth begin?

The origin of the 10% myth is unclear. There have many guesses but no one can point to a specific starting point. The truth is that each of the possible sources have contributed a piece to this myth. Here are some possible sources for this myth

• Misinterpretation of the work of scientist Pierre Flourens in the 1800s
• Misunderstanding of William James who wrote in 1908 "We are making use of only a small part of our possible mental and physical resources"
• Premature conclusions from the work of Karl Lashley in 1920s and 1930s
• Misquotes of Albert Einstein and Margaret Mead

The myth continues for several reasons. One is because the popular media keep on repeating this false statement. Several times a year, it seems, print or video media perpetuate this myth. Advertisers promote it to sell health products. A third reason it endures is that it has been adopted by psychics and other paranormal pushers.

Eventually, everyone believes the statement because they have heard it too many times from too many sources.