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How accurate is the claim that we only use 10% of our brains ?

By T.K. Randall
May 7, 2023 · Comment icon 13 comments
The human brain visible through a man's head.
How much of the brain do we use ? Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 Andrew Mason
It's an idea that has been spread around for decades - but as one scientist explains, there's nothing to actually back it up.
We've all heard someone claim that we only use around 10% of our brains, but according to neuroscientist Dean Burnett, this notion is almost certainly false.

Writing in Science Focus recently, Burnett remains adamant that the idea is blatant nonsense and something that, despite the best efforts of scientists, has been perpetuated for years.

Indeed, it is perhaps not unusual to hear of someone using this as an argument in favor of suggesting that we possess psychic powers, for instance, using the mysterious 90% of our brain that otherwise defies purpose or explanation.
The origins of the claim itself remain unclear, though it certainly began at least as far back as the 19th-Century when our understanding (and available tools) were far more primitive than they are now.

As Burnett explains, every part of the brain is used - for something - even if we do not currently have a full understanding of what that something might be.

That said, we are unable to use it all at the same time - the brain is highly resource intensive - so if we really did only use 10% of it, then evolution would have ditched the other 90% pretty sharpish.

There is certainly much we don't know about the human brain, but the idea that nine-tenths of it is essentially redundant is very much a myth that will hopefully be put to bed sooner rather than later.

Source: Science Focus | Comments (13)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #4 Posted by Abramelin 1 year ago
You'd be a 'holy man' in a couple of African countries.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Skulduggery 1 year ago
Yeah, this. I always thought this was common knowledge. This is what I've always been told. But, then I saw some Hollywood movie about a girl gaining superpowers because she tapped into the rest of her brain that humans usually don't tap into, well accordingto the movie. The other 90% is what the movie would have uou believe. I think it had Morgan Freeman in it. It was super lame. I was like, wait. The movie has it all wrong. It is ten percent simultaneously,  not just ten percent of the entire brain ever. It was like they totally missed the idea. As movies usually do. You'd think good fictio... [More]
Comment icon #6 Posted by Skulduggery 1 year ago
Apologies for typos. My new phone's keyboard is incredibly obnoxious and I am just burnt out on going back and editing posts.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Abramelin 1 year ago
Comment icon #8 Posted by joc 1 year ago
...the brain is so complex we only know what 10% of it is used for... This was the original phrase that sparked the entire, We only use 10% of our brain, myth. Neil deGrasse Tyson explains:  
Comment icon #9 Posted by quiXilver 1 year ago
Earliest reports I came across for its mention were from a Chicago Journalist who first claimed it in an article. It gained popularity through hearsay. He based it on no scientific study, but it seems to be his idea.  Don't recall his name as I read this some decades ago.
Comment icon #10 Posted by ercbreeze 1 year ago
I know many people that only use 5% of their brains.  
Comment icon #11 Posted by Alchopwn 1 year ago
Or a profound orgasm, which is very similar to an epileptic seizure.
Comment icon #12 Posted by DanL 1 year ago
computer problems the post that I made was NOT the post that I wrote...
Comment icon #13 Posted by joc 1 year ago
Reminds me of this gem of an old saying: I know you believe you understand what  you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

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