True or False: We Only Use 10% of Our Brains
For centuries, psychics, clairvoyants, and other psuedo-scientific charlatans have touted their own extraordinary perceptive powers by saying that ordinary people only use 10% of their brains.This is a great hook because it makes the rest of us think that if we just tapped into the other 90% of our brains, we too could do amazing things. But, alas, most of us are already using all of the resources our brains have to offer.
Evidence for the Health ClaimNo medical evidence supports the theory that we use only a small portion of our brains. One plausible explanation for the continuation of this unfounded assumption could be that scientists still only have an incomplete understanding of the human brain. So while we may know that most people use the majority of their brain on a daily basis; we can’t claim to know how each part of the brain actually works. Because neurologists have studied brain activity in people as they perform a wide variety of tasks, we do know that simple, menial activities only require us to engage a small portion of our brains. In these cases, therefore, there may be some truth to the 10% theory.By way of comparison, think of your kitchen as your brain. When you cook dinner for a group of people, you probably use the majority of the space and appliances that you have. When you make toast, however, you use far fewer resources. So, in mental “toast” cases, we often have no need to use the bulk of our brains.Proponents of the 10% theory sometimes hold it up as evidence that we don’t use our brains efficiently. They point to scientific research showing that many parts of the brain can, and do, perform similar or even identical tasks. However, brain researchers argue that these redundancies are necessary to prevent lapses in function. For example, if one pathway of your brain doesn’t get the message from your eyes that the traffic light has turned red, another pathway can take over and send a message to your foot to step on the brake. So, while redundancies exist, they are beneficial, even essential, for our survival.