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.
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