The brain is the major part of any living organism and perhaps the most complex as well. This organ weighing just three a pound is the seat of intelligence, interpreter of the senses, initiator of body movement, and controller of our behavior. It controls and governs our activities, thoughts, opinions, and as well our dreams. It is the source of all qualities we possess as a symbol of humanity. But this extra complex organ does such remarkable activities that it makes us question several factors of its creation. Although it’s ironic to question the one who made us question it at the first hand- it’s also quite fascinating to satisfy the quest of our curiosities.
Talking about the brain, one cannot probably discard a question- “what percentage of the brain do we use?” while people still rely on the 10% myth, the reality is a bit different. The film Lucy by Scarlett Johansson is famous for its 10% brain myth and advancing the idea of what would happen when we use 100% of our brains. But if go by the reality, this certain proclaim is indeed fantasy.
Debunking the 10% Brain Myth
According to a survey, around 65 percent of Americans believe that we only use 10 percent of our brain. But this is just a myth according to neurologist Barry Gordon, who believes that we use more than 10% of the brain. In fact, the percentage varies from activity to activity and person to person. Our brain works even when we are asleep or even resting. Ever thought, at what point of time your brain stops visualizing? Probably never! Even in our sleep, we dream, which means even when our body is not working, our brain is nonstop working. That in itself questions the 10% theory.
Though the myth is widely popularized through movies and advertisements, we virtually use every part of the brain. Around 90 percent of your brain isn’t useless filler. Magnetic resonance imaging shows that most of the human brain is active throughout day and night. But even if we believe the myth, the first question is -10% of what? Are we talking about the regions of the brain or neurons?
Functional magnetic resonance imaging is a technique by which scientists can see the areas of the brain being activated when we perform even the simplest of tasks like the blinking of an eye. A person is placed inside a scanner and even saying a few words require activity is far more than just ten percent of the brain.
We all know that our brain operates every function in our body, even what we smell is also directly attached with the brain processing that means our breathing or heartbeat too is an outcome of brain function. This is direct proof that our brain works 24*7. Additionally, when any nerve cells are going spare they either degenerate or die or they are colonized by other areas nearby. So when we are referring to 10 percent, we fail to understand are we referring to brain volume or quantity of cells.
One factor involved in the origin of myth could be because 90% of cells in our brain are called glial cells. These are the support cells, the white matter, which provides physical and nutritional help for the remaining 10% of the cells, which are the neurons. They make up the grey matter and do not perform thinking. So perhaps people assumed that only 10% of the cells do the hard graft.
There is no such way through which people can enhance their brains. Although they can learn new things and even improve their brain’s learning capacity that does not increase the brain area, it simply creates new connections among the neurons.
Another factor that discards the 10% myth is brain injuries. If we only use 10% of the brain, brain injuries wouldn’t be so damaging, since the damage would affect parts of the brain that weren’t doing anything. On the other hand, natural selection discourages the advancement of any useless anatomical structures. So if the Stone Age people used only a scarce quantity of brains, it shouldn’t happen for us to thrive technologically as natural selection would have discarded any useless advancement.
Thus the only conclusion to this myth is that nobody can become a super genius overnight and such kinds of projections are only entertaining in movies. The myth’s durability only rises from people’s conceptions about their brains and how there’s a potential of becoming superhumans.