Do us Humans Use 10% of our Brain?

Back in 2014, the film Lucy starring Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman was released.  It is about a woman  Along with being released, Lucy brought back the popular saying, “The average person uses 10% of their brain capacity”. This can be seen in the Lucy movie poster below.  Back when advertisements of the movie were being shown on TV nonstop, Morgan Freeman’s wise voice could be heard on the TV saying we only use 10% of our brain.  If Morgan Freeman is telling you something, no matter what, with that voice, you’ll believe whatever it is.  I mean, Morgan Freeman has played God before, after all.  So let’s see if we actually use only 10% of our brains.

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Over the past 100 years, technology has advanced immensely in what we can learn about how the human brain functions.  With instruments like EEG (Electroencephalography), the PET scanner, MRI machines, and other brain scanners, researchers have been able to pinpoint specific psychological functions to specific parts of the brain.  Throughout all this research, not once, was a “quiet” or unused part of the brain was discovered according to Eric Chudler, director of the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering at the University of Washington.  With that being said, if there are no unused parts of the brain, then that means we use 100% of our brains.  A little bit larger than the original 10% claim.  Now before you think there is a global conspiracy, where scientists are lying about how we use 100% of our brains. Wouldn’t we know if someone discovered a certain part of our brain that wasn’t actually used?

Using the logic that humans use only 10% of their brains, then hypothetically, what would happen if we took away 90% of the brain?  As you unfortunately know, a stroke can cause severe and terrible disabilities.  With that being said, when a human suffers from a stroke, only a small part of the brain is damaged.  As well, neurological disorders, like Parkinson’s disease, affect only a small part of the brain.  If we only used 10% of our brains, wouldn’t these past two examples I presented not have as much of a devastating impact on the brain?  Larry Squire, a research neuroscientist, puts it into a simpler way, “Any place the brain is damaged there is a consequence.”

So after seeing the evidence proving that we do not use anywhere near 10% of our brains, how did this myth arise?  As well, how has it continued to being accepted by the general public?  There are many theories of how this myth first arose.  One is that there was a misquote of Albert Einstein.  People at the Albert Einstein archive could not find anything involving this claim.  I guess when someone sees Einstein’s name behind a statement, it’s a 100% believable. Another theory was in 1908 when William James, an American psychologist, stated, “We are making use of only a small part of our possible mental and physical resources”.  Back in this time, James was also an author of popular articles that offered advise to people.  In these articles he does say humans do not use their brains to their fullest potential.  Though that is very different than saying we only use 10% of our brains.  Lastly, a reason why the myth has continued is us humans like to know there is room to improve







4 thoughts on “Do us Humans Use 10% of our Brain?

  1. Nathan Andrew Morningstar

    Intersting idea, however Its wierd to think that because we use so much of our brain to perform simple functions. However, there are instance of people that have had traumatic injuries to more than 50 percent of the brain and are still fully functional, so I can see the possibility of that being true as well .

  2. Michael Kevin Curran

    Although I think the movie “Lucy” was a great film, I did not believe that humans only used 10% of our brains. As interesting as a concept the movie was, I too agreed it didn’t make sense that such a small portion of our brain was used. And you’re also right, people tend to hear or see a name and accept the credibility of the name more so than the statement they heard.

  3. Marvin Barnhill

    I think humans love to believe that there is more to us than we know. Similar to how we believe in magic and the supernatural, the unknown is fascinating to us. Similar rumors like vaccines causing cancer are examples of how when something sounds credible, we believe it, without doing our due diligence. I found an article by that addresses the idea of conformity and how easy it is for a handful of people to get an idea, even a false one, to spread like wildfire.

  4. Darcy Pacheco

    I remember watching the film Lucy about a year ago and thought to myself how interesting our world would be if that was to be true. While although this is only fictional, there is so much more to discover about the world and this happens to be one of them. If we were to only use 10% of our brain, that would open ourselves to a whole new level of possibilities; imagining the unimaginable. According to Doctor Barry Gordon of Johns Hopkins, we pretty much use our entire brain all of the time as it remains constantly active. To read more insight from Gordon, please click on the following link:

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