I am pretty sure that you have searched for this question after seeing the sci-fi thriller Lucy. This widely perpetuated myth have been in minds of people since when a rumour about Einstein , unlike “normal” people ,was able to use more than 10% of his brain. But is that true? if yes, Can we increase our percentage usage of brain? if yes, than how?.
Whenever it comes to human body, our brain always remains a mystery. Biologically we have explored our “brain” thoroughly, but we still are in the battle with lack of knowledge regarding our “Mind” . Undoubtedly human brain is very powerful, this is the reason why while having comparably 0-level of muscle power we still are at the top of the animal chain.
What lead me to think that this might be true?
While researching, I found out that Monks of India and Tibet are able to levitate themselves with the power of mind. and may other shocking stories in which there are some extraordinary evidences that show the herculean power of human brain. This is the thing which indicated me that this myth might be truth, as considering the knowledge we have about our brain, humans are still infants.
Here are some contradictions to this myth:-
- Studies of brain damage: If 90 percent of the brain is normally unused, then damage to these areas should not impair performance. Instead, there is almost no area of the brain that can be damaged without loss of abilities. Even slight damage to small areas of the brain can have profound effects.
- Brain scans have shown that no matter what one is doing, all brain areas are always active. Some areas are more active at any one time than others, but barring brain damage, there is no part of the brain that is absolutely not functioning.
- The brain is enormously costly to the rest of the body, in terms of oxygen and nutrient consumption. It can require up to 20 percent of the body’s energy—more than any other organ—despite making up only 2 percent of the human body by weight. If 90 percent of it were unnecessary, there would be a large survival advantage to humans with smaller, more efficient brains. If this were true, the process of natural selection would have eliminated the inefficient brains. It is also highly unlikely that a brain with so much redundant matter would have evolved in the first place; given the historical risk of death in childbirth associated with the large brain size (and therefore skull size) of humans, there would be a strong selection pressure against such a large brain size if only 10 percent was actually in use.
- Brain imaging (neuroimaging): Technologies such as positron emission tomography (PET) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) allow the activity of the living brain to be monitored. They reveal that even during sleep, all parts of the brain show some level of activity. Only in the case of serious damage does a brain have “silent” areas.
- Localization of function: Rather than acting as a single mass, the brain has distinct regions for different kinds of information processing. Decades of research have gone into mapping functions onto areas of the brain, and no function-less areas have been found.
- Microstructural analysis: In the single-unit recording technique, researchers insert a tiny electrode into the brain to monitor the activity of a single cell. If 90 percent of cells were unused, then this technique would have revealed that.
- Synaptic pruning: Brain cells that are not used have a tendency to degenerate. Hence if 90 percent of the brain were inactive, autopsy of normal adult brains would reveal large-scale degeneration.
Is the myth misinterpreted?
To understand this first we have to get a slight look towards the functioning of our brain.
We all know that our whole brain does not contribute thoughts and helps us to think about something, it also provides other functionality like it handles your physical movement , sense , provide us balance , controls body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate and breathing and so on, and that’s the reason why our brain consumes about 20% of total energy produced by our body.
Parts of brain and its functions:-
- The brain stem which controls the reflexes and automatic functions (heart rate, blood pressure), limb movements and visceral functions.
- The cerebellum integrates information from the vestibular system that indicates position and movement and uses this data to coordinate limb movements.
- The hypothalamus and pituitary gland are responsible for visceral functions, body temperature and behavior responses such as feeding, drinking, sexual response, aggression and pleasure.
- The cerebrum (also called the cerebral cortex or just the cortex) integrates info from all of the sense organs, initiates motor functions, controls emotions and holds memory and thought processes (emotional expression and thinking are more prevalent in higher mammals).
Coming back to question
“is the myth misinterpreted?” . In my opinion, yes.
From the above written theory about the brain structure and its specific functions of different part, we sum up that, to find an answer to this myth we should focus on cerebrum which provide us functionality like thoughts and thinking. But let’s take the whole brain into consideration.
What if we used the whole brain for just thinking and processing information. Obviously, this is next to impossible as you cannot make our ears to see and our eyes to hear, so how can you make other parts than cerebrum to think as they have a totally different functionality. But when we see the structure of brain deeply, we find out that no matter which part of the brain we talk about , it is has neurons in it. So basically, neurons in cerebrum help up to think and process information and neurons in hypothalamus help us to do their specific job.
Summing up, what if we could make our neurons in other parts than cerebrum to do the same task as cerebrum, than it might be possible to use our brain 100% for just “THINKING”. Not neglecting, it does mean that we will not be able to do other important life processes like to sense , maintain our blood pressure , heart rate etc, and eventually we will die but still considering the fact that humans are revolutionary, maybe a day we would come when man would be able to use the power of mind to its maximum. it also means that mankind could explore new horizons that he never could before. Just think, what would be the results if millions and millions of neurons are used to just think.
Though, I don’t believe in what the movie Lucy has shown, that we would be able to control our metabolism, or matter and posses God like qualities. As using our 100% of brain for thinking will result in death. And if use more than 10% of our brain for thinking and killing some not that important things like senses, than too we would not be able to control matter as our brain will just think, nothing else. And possessing God like qualities is mere a science friction zone.
Still I was sad seeing so many negative comments for the movie. If you don’t believe in what they had shown doesn’t mean you should discourage the idea. I thank the creator of movie Lucy for showing this idea to the people, also which is why I got the idea of this topic and researched on it. People should stop discouraging ideas and should start to think over them. This will bring the change.
While researching I also came across some names of scientists who are believed to have used their brain more than others. Lets take an example of Sir Stephan Hawking, a great man, who has shown the world that no matter how odd the conditions are, you still can perceive your goal, and that what’s making me think about the disability in brain which is a problem to him but what if this is the reason why he is able think more? Take it in this way, he almost can’t speak and his body is paralysed because the part of brain which is responsible for this have disabled neuron as he suffers from Lou Gehrig’s disease, but what if the neurons in that disabled part of his brain are contributing their efforts to cerebrum. In that case, as I said above, more neurons are taking part in thinking and information processing activity which allows him to think what normal beings can’t.
Redefining the question.
Can we use our brain more then 10%?
answer is , we are already using our brain more than 10%, but if someone asks Can we use our brain more than 10% just for thinking and processing information? YES, WE CAN.