Adam Dachis from Brain Hacks (Brain Myths Debunked by Science – You Only Use 10% of your brain) has written an article which illuminates some major shortcomings in the way people communicate and interpret ideas. It also shows how narrow focus thinking can lead to major misunderstandings.
The assertion that “we only use ten per cent of our brain” has been around for a long time. People making this statement (or a form of it) mean something entirely different to the way it is interpreted in this article and elsewhere.
On hearing the statement, neuroscientists and others immediately join the fray and point out how ridiculous it is If we take this excerpt from the accompanying article:
“Brain imaging studies using PET scans and functional MRI show that any mentally complex activity uses many areas of the brain, and over a day, just about all of the brain gets a workout. More proof that the entire brain is crucial for daily life is the devastating impact of damage to even a small area of the brain.”
Of course, all of the brain gets a workout. No one who points out the potential of the brain by saying “We only use ten percent of our brain’s potential” is implying that some of our important brain areas are not being used. Those who are not
reaching near their full potential of brain usage (maybe only ten per cent?) have not, for example, turned off their Limbic System (emotional centre) or powered down their Pre-Frontal Cortex (decision making centre).
Yet few people reach anywhere near their full potential in terms of skills they can learn and information they can store. Learning such skills and memorizing more information means creating many more brain cell connections and mental pathways i.e. using more of your brain’s potential. This is what this much-maligned statement is referring to and it is a prime example of very narrow focus thinking to conclude otherwise.
And the reference to only using a small portion of your brain’s potential does not refer to psychic powers or “bending metal” as stated in the final paragraph of the article. It simply refers to the fact that we can all learn much more than we already know.
Finally, consider one of those people who go on quiz shows and win all of the prizes because of their encyclopedic knowledge of a subject. Have they learned much more than the average person? Of course they have. Who knows, maybe they have created ten times more brain cell connections and mental pathways than the average person?