Author Archives: Joshua Righter

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







Is Drug Addiction a Disease?

Not everyone agrees with each other that drug is addiction is a disease.  Throughout society, there are many people that think drug addiction is not a disease, rather is a choice and a lack of willpower to overcome the addiction.  A main reason why people do not agree is because people are looking at the issue differently.  Some people are approaching the question as though the person decided to do the drug first and then it became a habit.  Other people including myself have the viewpoint as yes the person did indeed chose to do the drug, but did not choose to become dangerously addicted.  Once they become addicted, there no longer is a choice or option for the individual.  Understanding this topic is imperative in saving millions of people’s lives.  This is the first step in trying to treat addiction.

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Above are my personal thoughts on drug addiction being a disease.  This won’t convince the people that believe drug addiction is a choice and not a disease.  To further my point, I will turn to science to convince those people otherwise.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, many drugs impact the brain by releasing a chemical in the brain called dopamine.  Think of dopamine as a “reward system” where it motivates an individual to repeat certain behaviors.  Do not just associate dopamine with drug use though.  This is because dopamine can be released by anything you feel pleasure from, such as eating and reuniting with loved ones.  Drug use causes humans to become addicted to the pleasure felt that is a result of the release of dopamine. Though, as the brain get used to the excess release of dopamine, it starts to create less each time the certain drug is used.  As a result, the individual will not get the same feelings they did the first time they used the drug.  The term that is being described, which is more widely known is “tolerance”.  That is why people need feel the need to habitually use the drug in order to achieve a new high.  By re-wiring how the brain functions, drug addiction should be treated as a disease.

In order to learn and study about the effect that genetics and the environment has on the individual’s addiction, scientists study identical twins.  This is because studying identical twins eliminates the genetic factor and allows scientists to study effects of the environment on the individual.  To study this even further, scientists will study identical twins that were raised separately and this gives another perspective on the affect that the environment has on the development of the individual.  As well, scientists study fraternal (non-identical) twins to compare to identical twins.  This gives more insight on how genetics affects addiction.  According to The Genetics of Addiction, a study of 861 identical twin pairs and 653 non-identical twin pairs found a correlation that if one identical twin was addicted to alcohol, then the other twin would have a higher probability of also being addicted.  Compared to non-identical twins, when one twin was addicted to alcohol, this didn’t automatically mean the other twin was addicted.  When scientists studied the differences of identical and non-identical twins, they found 50%-60% is due to genetic influences, and the rest is due to environmental factors.

Another study found that a child of an addict is eight times higher to develop an addiction later in life.  This is sadly a risk that children have unfortunately inherited from their parents or other past family members.  There is hope though.  Just because genetics are not in someone’s favor, the other 40% or so is due environment factors including coping skills.  Children can still have good coping skills as well as not surrounding themselves where drugs will be, and can never become an addict even though they have unfavorable genes for addiction.   This also means then if an individual has zero family members that are or were addicts, it doesn’t automatically mean the individual has a zero chance of becoming an addict.  There are environmental influences and these can cause humans to re-wire their brain through repeated drug use.  This relates to drug addiction being a disease.  As well, like other diseases, drug addiction is affected by genetics and poor life choices.  A great example of this is heart disease.  Heart disease can be developed from genetics and poor choices in life like smoking, eating the wrong type of diet, and not exercising enough.

So the next time you know someone who is an addict, do not just think they will eventually overcome their addiction, or chastise them for being addicted to drugs.  Being ignorant about drug addiction can have dire consequences on whoever you know that is addicted to drugs.  Drug addiction is a treatable disease.  Though, it is almost impossible to treat without realizing the individual has a problem. Get them into a rehabilitation center as soon as possible, you can save their life.





I Love Science

Hi everyone my name is Joshua Righter and I’m from York, Pennsylvania.  I am currently a senior, who is studying accounting.  I plan on getting my CPA, and we will see where I go from there.

I am taking this course, because I needed to fufill my last science credit for graduation.  I chose this specific science course, because I’ve had friends, who have taken this course, and they reccomended I take this class.  I am not planning to be a science major because of two reasons.  One being I am a senior and an accounting major.  Now, it is a little too late to change majors if I wanted to graduate on time.  A second reason being, I have never done well in science courses I have taken in my entire learning career.  This doesn’t mean I don’t like science.  I find science very interesting to learn about, but I have always had teachers/professors, who require you to memorize and regurgitate facts.  Judging from reading the syllabus and what Prof. Read has said already in class so far, this will not be the case.  This is what makes me excited to be enrolled in this course.  I already know I will actually learn something from this course, and not just forgetting what I learned months after the course ends.

I have always had a bunch of questions about science that I have never looked into yet, such as these.  This course is perfect for learning about these unanswered questions in science.

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