Only 10% of brain used?

Discussion in 'Human Science' started by Dinosaur, Jul 20, 2014.

  1. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

    Why not 5% or 20% ?

    Who made up this notion? What does this mean? Is the notion based on any experimental evidence or on any cogent analysis of brain function?

    It seems to imply that a human would be incredible if able to use more than 10% & perhaps it further implies that we should learn how to use more than 10%.

    Does it mean you can only use 10% in a given small time interval? I doubt this, since it seems difficult to use as much as 10% in a small time interval.

    How would you use more than 10% of your memories in a small time interval? I doubt you could use as much as 10% in a small time interval.

    Consider all the mental activity a well educated brain can perform. Mathematical problem solving, cross word & jig saw puzzles, reading, writing essays or fiction, composing limericks, what ever. In addition consider all the brain functions relating to physical activities like sports & control of the autonomic functions required to maintain a living organism.

    Could your brain perform as much as 10% of the above in any small time interval?
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  3. origin Heading towards oblivion Valued Senior Member

    It is an urban legend that we only use 10% of our brain, we use all of our brain, well, most of us do.

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  5. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

    We do not actually know that all the brain is used but we have good reason to say most of it is. The 10% thing is a myth.
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  7. Sithsaber Registered Member

    This saying is a half truth kind of like "we are the 99%"

    It's been proven that the mind is malleable and capable of all kinds of feats and states if they are trained or unlocked.
  8. krash661 [MK6] transitioning scifi to reality Valued Senior Member

    actually it's not a myth at all,
    it's the typical " not understood " what the 10% means.
    also, i seriously want to see the movie,
    " lucy "
  9. andy1033 Truth Seeker Valued Senior Member

    Maybe we just have a certain amount of energy to be used at any one time, and thats why we only use 10% of our brain at any one time.
  10. origin Heading towards oblivion Valued Senior Member

    Yes of course it's a myth!
    Here is my link (I picked neuroscience for kids since it seems to fit)
    show me yours:

    What does that mean?

    Not very good ratings but it may be fun - I will wait and see what the audiences say.
  11. krash661 [MK6] transitioning scifi to reality Valued Senior Member

    find another article on it.
    something specialized for kids is a notion of manipulation.
    find an actuall neurology paper on it.
    not articles , especially ones using an scientific america , article, and not the actual papers.

    the key part of this link is ,
    " then we could perform super memory feats and have other fantastic mental abilities "

    we only use 10% of mental abilities.
    if you notice the article avoids this discussion and moves to the mechanics of the brain it's self.
    not the mental capabilities.

    " maybe we could even move objects with a single thought. Again, I do not know of any data that would support any of this. "

    there's alot of misconception written by this individual of this link that i'm not going to sit here and address all of it..
    in my opinion, it's the typical manipulation article or what ever you want to call it.

    also, if you notice, this article never refers to actual neurology papers, but a single person and what they wrote about it(including the S.A citation).
  12. origin Heading towards oblivion Valued Senior Member

    Really? Seriously? OK, I maybe wrong here, it does in fact seem that there is at least one person only using 10% of their brain...
  13. krash661 [MK6] transitioning scifi to reality Valued Senior Member

    (shakes head)

    what ever.
  14. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

    "In fact, most of us use only about 10 percent of our brains, if that."
    --- Uri Geller (in Uri Geller's Mindpower Kit, New York: Penguin Books, 1996.)

    So obviously, IF only we could use all of it, we could do such amazing things like bending spoons. Just imagine how wonderful the world would be if everyone could bend all their spoons! Then everyone would have time to spoon. Except that there is no spoon. Do you suppose we could even bend forks?
  15. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

    What you can consider is rather than having 10% being a 1/10th solid block of brain, it's actually clusters that are spaced out to reduce the problem of increased heat.

    If we used a higher capacity of our brains then the ambient core temperature would rise. This would cause a number of biological problems (premature ageing of cells?) as well as mnemonic problems due to an increase in entropy.
  16. danshawen Valued Senior Member

    I worry less about the 10% statistic than I do about what that 10% is actually used for by most people. It is used for modeling of social interactions, to facilitate social status, predict behaviors of friends, co-workers, and acquaintances, potential mates, playing games and sports. Not just the persons are being modeled for recognition, but also their likes, dislikes, etc. Everything we now use social media like Facebook for.

    Does this strike anyone else as a load of mostly useless social and /or cultural rubbish in our heads?
  17. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

    Just a comment in passing: the 10% myth was exposed DECADES ago. Anyone who still believes it has no concept of modern neuroscience.
  18. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

    The Ten-Percent Myth

    Claim: We use only ten percent of our brains.


    Origins: Someone has taken most of your brain away and you probably didn't even know it. Well, not taken your brain away, exactly, but decided that you don't use it. It's the old myth heard time and again about how people use only ten percent of their brains. While for the people who repeat that myth, it's probably true, the rest of us happily use all of our brains.

    The Myth and the Media

    That tired Ten-Percent claim pops up all the time. In 1998, national magazine ads for U.S. Satellite Broadcasting showed a drawing of a brain. Under it was the caption, "You only use 11 percent of its potential." Well, they're a little closer than the ten-percent figure, but still off by about 89 percent. In July 1998, ABC television ran promotional spots for The Secret Lives of Men, one of their offerings for the fall season's lineup. The spot featured a full-screen blurb that read, "Men only use ten percent of their brains."

    One reason this myth has endured is that it has been adopted by psychics and other paranormal pushers to explain psychic powers. On more than one occasion I've heard psychics tell their audiences, "We only use ten percent of our minds. If scientists don't know what we do with the other ninety percent, it must be used for psychic powers!" In Reason To Believe: A Practical Guide to Psychic Phenomena, author Michael Clark mentions a man named Craig Karges. Karges charges a lot of money for his "Intuitive Edge" program, designed to develop natural psychic abilities. Clark quotes Karges as saying: "We normally use only 10 to 20 percent of our minds. Think how different your life would be if you could utilize that other 80 to 90 percent known as the subconscious mind."

    This was also the reason that Caroline Myss gave for her alleged intuitive powers on a segment of Eye to Eye with Bryant Gumbel, which aired in July of 1998. Myss, who has written books on unleashing "intuitive powers," said that everyone has intuitive gifts, and lamented that we use so little of the mind's potential. To make matters worse, just the week before, on the very same program, correct information was presented about the myth. In a bumper spot between the program and commercials, a quick quiz flashed onscreen: What percentage of the brain is used? The multiple-choice answers ranged from 10 percent to 100 percent. The correct answer appeared, which I was glad to see. But if the producers knew that what one of their interviewees said is clearly and demonstrably inaccurate, why did they let it air? Does the right brain not know what the left brain is doing? Perhaps the Myss interview was a repeat, in which case the producers presumably checked her facts after it aired and felt some responsibility to correct the error in the following week's broadcast. Or possibly the broadcasts aired in sequence and the producers simply did not care and broadcast Myss and her misinformation anyway.

    Even Uri Geller, who has made a career out of trying to convince people he can bend metal with his mind, trots out this little gem. This claim appears in his book Uri Geller's Mind-Power Book in the introduction: "Our minds are capable of remarkable, incredible feats, yet we don't use them to their full capacity. In fact, most of us only use about 10 per cent of our brains, if that. The other 90 per cent is full of untapped potential and undiscovered abilities, which means our minds are only operating in a very limited way instead of at full stretch. I believe that we once had full power over our minds. We had to, in order to survive, but as our world has become more sophisticated and complex we have forgotten many of the abilities we once had" (italicized phrases emphasized in original).

    Evidence Against the Ten-Percent Myth

    The argument that psychic powers come from the unused majority of the brain is based on the logic fallacy of the argument from ignorance. In this fallacy, lack of proof for a position (or simply lack of information) is used to try to support a particular claim. Even if it were true that the vast majority of the human mind is unused (which it clearly is not), that fact in no way implies that any extra capacity could somehow give people paranormal powers.

    What follows are two of the reasons that the Ten-Percent story is suspect. (For a much more thorough and detailed analysis of the subject, see Barry Beyerstein's chapter in the 1999 book Mind Myths: Exploring Everyday Mysteries of the Mind.)

    1) Brain imaging research techniques such as PET scans (positron emission tomography) and fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) clearly show that the vast majority of the brain does not lie fallow. Indeed, although certain minor functions may use only a small part of the brain at one time, any sufficiently complex set of activities or thought patterns will indeed use many parts of the brain. Just as people don't use all of their muscle groups at one time, they also don't use all of their brain at once. For any given activity, such as eating, watching television, making love, or reading, you may use a few specific parts of your brain. Over the course of a whole day, however, just about all of the brain is used at one time or another.

    2) The myth presupposes an extreme localization of functions in the brain. If the "used" or "necessary" parts of the brain were scattered all around the organ, that would imply that much of the brain is in fact necessary. But the myth implies that the "used" part of the brain is a discrete area, and the "unused" part is like an appendix or tonsil, taking up space but essentially unnecessary. But if all those parts of the brain are unused, removal or damage to the "unused" part of the brain should be minor or unnoticed. Yet people who have suffered head trauma, a stroke, or other brain injury are frequently severely impaired. Have you ever heard a doctor say, ". . . But luckily when that bullet entered his skull, it only damaged the 90 percent of his brain he didn't use"? Of course not.

    Variants of the Ten-Percent Myth

    The myth is not simply a static, misunderstood factoid. It has several forms, and this adaptability gives it a shelf life longer than lacquered Spam. In the basic form, the myth claims that years ago a scientist discovered that we indeed did use only ten percent of our brains. Another variant is that only ten percent of the brain had been mapped, and this in turn became misunderstood as ten percent used. A third variant was described earlier by Craig Karges. This view is that the brain is somehow divided neatly into two parts: the conscious mind which is used ten to twenty percent of the time (presumably at capacity); and the subconscious mind, where the remaining eighty to ninety percent of the brain is unused. This description betrays a profound misunderstanding of brain function research.

    Part of the reason for the long life of the myth is that if one variant can be proven incorrect, the person who held the belief can simply shift the reason for his belief to another basis, while the belief itself stays intact. So, for example, if a person is shown that PET scans depict activity throughout the entire brain, he can still claim that, well, the ninety percent figure really referred to the subconscious mind, and therefore the Ten-Percent figure is still basically correct.

    Regardless of the exact version heard, the myth is spread and repeated, by both the well-meaning and the deliberately deceptive. The belief that remains, then, is what Robert J. Samuelson termed a "psycho-fact, [a] belief that, though not supported by hard evidence, is taken as real because its constant repetition changes the way we experience life." People who don't know any better will repeat it over and over, until, like the admonition against swimming right after you eat, the claim is widely believed. ("Triumph of the Psycho-Fact," Newsweek, 9 May 1994.)

    The origins of the myth are not at all clear. Beyerstein, of the Brain Behaviour Laboratory at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, has traced it back to at least the early part of the century. A 1998 column in New Scientist magazine also suggested various roots, including Albert Einstein and Dale Carnegie ("Brain Drain"). It likely has a number of sources, principally misunderstood or misinterpreted legitimate scientific findings as well as self-help gurus.

    The most powerful lure of the myth is probably the idea that we might develop psychic abilities, or at least gain a leg up on the competition by improving our memory or concentration. All this is available for the asking, the ads say, if we just tapped into our most incredible of organs, the brain. It is past time to put this myth to rest, although if it has survived at least a century so far, it will surely live on into the new millennium. Perhaps the best way to combat this chestnut is to reply to the speaker, when the myth is mentioned, "Oh? What part don't you use?"

  19. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

    You only use 10% of your brain

    Research by the psychologist Karl Lashley during the 1930s is one of the likely causes behind the perception that we only use ten percent of our brain. Lashley removed most of the cerebral cortex in the brain of rats and other animals and discovered that they could still learn specific skills. In another project neurologist placed electrodes straight on human brains and the results seemed to show large areas to be passive, leading them to conclude that humans only use ten percent of the brain. Some authors even claim that we only use one percent (Buzan, 2003).

    Even if the rats could still learn specific skills after an operation like this, it is likely that other brain functions were destroyed. We only have to look at humans who have suffered some form of brain damage, to see that minor damage can result in severe handicap. Modern scanning equipment shows that Lashley and other scientists were wrong. Something as simple as reading out loud involves several parts of the brain. You use specific and different, parts of your brain during activities like eating, running or watching TV. At the end of the day you have used almost all parts of the brain.

    One reason this myth has survived is that it has been repeated so often. It has turned into an undebatable fact. What is 100 percent of a brain’s potential? How do we define the potential? It is impossible to say.

    Did you know that you only use ten precent of your brain. Buy our book to improve your brain’s potential, the ad says. Instead, we should rather listen to the brain expert who says that if your doctor wants to remove 90 percent of your brain, you should run like hell.
  20. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

    Do we really use only 10 percent of our brains? Mar 8, 2004

    Barry L. Beyerstein of the Brain Behavior Laboratory at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver explains :

    Whenever I venture out of the Ivory Tower to deliver public lectures about the brain, by far the most likely question I can expect as the talk winds up is, "Do we really only use 10 percent of our brains?" The look of disappointment that usually follows when I say it isn't so strongly suggests that the 10-percent myth is one of those hopeful shibboleths that refuses to die simply because it would be so darn nice if it were true. I'm sure none of us would turn down a mighty hike in brainpower if it were attainable, and a seemingly never-ending stream of crackpot schemes and devices continues to be advanced by hucksters who trade on the myth. Always on the lookout for a "feel-good" story, the media have also played their part in keeping the myth alive. A study of self-improvement products by a panel of the prestigious National Research Council, Enhancing Human Performance, surveyed an assortment of the less far-fetched offerings of the "brain booster" genre and came to the conclusion that (alas!) there is no reliable substitute for practice and hard work when it comes to getting ahead in life. This unwelcome news has done little, however, to dissuade millions who are comforted by the prospect that the shortcut to their unfulfilled dreams lies in the fact that they just haven't quite found the secret to tap this vast, allegedly unused cerebral reservoir.

    Why would a neuroscientist immediately doubt that 90 percent of the average brain lies perpetually fallow? First of all, it is obvious that the brain, like all our other organs, has been shaped by natural selection. Brain tissue is metabolically expensive both to grow and to run, and it strains credulity to think that evolution would have permitted squandering of resources on a scale necessary to build and maintain such a massively underutilized organ. Moreover, doubts are fueled by ample evidence from clinical neurology. Losing far less than 90 percent of the brain to accident or disease has catastrophic consequences. What is more, observing the effects of head injury reveals that there does not seem to be any area of the brain that can be destroyed by strokes, head trauma, or other manner, without leaving the patient with some kind of functional deficit. Likewise, electrical stimulation of points in the brain during neurosurgery has failed so far to uncover any dormant areas where no percept, emotion or movement is elicited by applying these tiny currents (this can be done with conscious patients under local anesthetic because the brain itself has no pain receptors).

    The past hundred years has seen the advent of increasingly sophisticated technologies for listening in on the functional traffic of the brain. The goal of behavioral neuroscience has been to record electrical, chemical and magnetic changes in brain activity and to correlate them with specific mental and behavioral phenomena. With the aid of instruments such as EEGs, magnetoencephalographs, PET scanners and functional MRI machines, researchers have succeeded in localizing a vast number of psychological functions to specific centers and systems in the brain. With nonhuman animals, and occasionally with human patients undergoing neurological treatment, recording probes can even be inserted into the brain itself. Despite this detailed reconnaissance, no quiet areas awaiting new assignments have emerged.

    All told, the foregoing suggests that there is no cerebral spare tire waiting to be mounted in service of one's grade point average, job advancement, or the pursuit of a cure for cancer or the Great American Novel. So, if the 10-percent myth is that implausible, how did it arise? My attempts to track down the origins of the 10-percent myth have not discovered any smoking guns, but some tantalizing clues have emerged (more are recounted in the references below). One stream leads back to the pioneering American psychologist, William James, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In addition to his voluminous scholarly work, James was a prodigious author of popular articles offering advice to the general public. In these exhortatory works James was fond of stating that the average person rarely achieves but a small portion of his or her potential. I was never able to find an exact percentage mentioned, and James always talked in terms of one's undeveloped potential, apparently never relating this to a specific amount of gray matter engaged. A generation of "positive thinking" gurus that followed were not so careful, however, and gradually "10 percent of our capacity" morphed into "10 percent of our brain." Undoubtedly, the biggest boost for the self-help entrepreneurs came when the famous adventurer and journalist Lowell Thomas attributed the 10-percent-of-the-brain claim to William James. Thomas did so in the preface he wrote, in 1936, to one of the best-selling self-help books of all time, Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People. The myth has never lost its steam since.

    Other sources for the ubiquity of the 10-percent myth probably come from popular authors' misconstrual of scientific papers by early brain researchers. For example, in calling (for technical reasons) a huge percentage of the cerebral hemispheres the "silent cortex," early investigators may have left the mistaken impression that what is now referred to as the "association cortex" had no function. That was far from the researchers' intention, but that is what seems to have filtered through to the public. Likewise, early researchers' appropriately modest admissions that they didn't know what 90 percent of the brain was doing probably fostered the widespread misconception that the leftovers did nothing.

    In my quest for the seminal utterance of the 10-percent myth, I frequently came across the claim that Albert Einstein had once explained his own brilliance by reference to the myth--Einstein's enormous prestige, of course, making it unassailable thenceforth. A careful search by the helpful people at the Albert Einstein archives, however, was unable to provide me with any record of such a statement on his part. So it remains probably just another of those instances where promoters with a point or a buck to make have misappropriated the clout of Einstein's name to further their own endeavors.

    The 10-percent myth has undoubtedly motivated many people to strive for greater creativity and productivity in their lives--hardly a bad thing. The comfort, encouragement and hope that it has engendered helps explain its longevity. But, like so many uplifting myths that are too good to be true, the truth of the matter seems to be its least important aspect.


    tiun5  October 21, 2009, 7:11 PM

    this is bogus cause we only use 10 persent of are brain. did you go to school? it was on are you smarter than a fith grader. get your fact straigh or get off the enternet!

    tiun5  October 21, 2009, 7:21 PM

    get your facts straight we only use 10 percent of are brain!!!!! as we slowly become more intellagent (i think i spelled that wrong) over the years. we used far less of are brain in the cave man part of time. but if we only use 10 percent of are brain, it makes me wonder what percent of an animal's brain an animal uses.

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