Medical and Science Questions and Answers

Do We Really Only Use Ten Percent of Our Brains

10% of Our Brain

Photo by [clarita] morgueFile


Now this is one of those questions that most people will demand they know the answer to. We’ve all heard it, that humans only use ten percent of their brains.

According to what most would consider fact, our brains are capable of much more than we realize. It’s said that we’ve barely tapped the potential of what we’re capable of. Now even though this may be true in a round about way, it may not necessarily mean that we’re only using 10% of our brain power.

In fact, this has been taken so serious for so long, that there are tons of one liners formed to prove that point. Such as, “You’re capable of so much more”, “Just imagine what we could do if we used all our brains”, “You can do so much better”. Just to name a few.

Where did the Ten Percent Brain Theory Come From?

It’s thought that the theory of us only using ten percent of our brain may have started in 1936. A man by the name of Lowell Thomas wrote a book called “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. In this book he added a quote,

“Professor William James of Harvard used to say that the average person develops on 10 percent of his latent mental ability.”

Many of you may know this already, but his book sold a huge number of copies over the years, and some believe this quote in his introduction may have launched the 10% brain theory. We may never know for certain its origin.

The Facts: How Much Brain Power Do We Use

A Psychology professor, Barry Beyerstein wrote an essay on the subject in 1999. It was titled, “Whence Cometh the Myth that We Use Only 10% of Our Brains?

He actually went through a rigorous 7 point takedown of the mighty misconception that we’ve only tapped a mere ten percent of our knowledge.

Evidence that he came up with involving brain imaging technology was by far the most compelling of all his studies. He also did studies on subjects that had brain damage.

According to the results of these imaging studies, even while sleeping all areas of our brains remain active. In fact, different sections of our brain are reserved for certain functions. His studies showed that it would take some very major damage to the brain before even a small percentage would become non-functional.

Not only that, even the slightest damage to a portion of your brain could potentially cause major impairment to motor functions and cognitive abilities. Another thing to remember is, when brain cells aren’t being used or get damaged, they actually atrophy. So if in fact we were only using 10% of our brain, then the other 90% would be completely useless anyway.

So basically, all portions of our brain are very active at all times. Now how we develop and use our brain is all a matter of what we put into it. With the exception of disease and damage that may of occurred.

It is also known that our brain may re-route and find workarounds when parts of it become damaged. Meaning it finds other ways to keep functioning if something happens to part of it. It’s not quite clear how this happens, but after all, it is a brain, so it’s pretty smart.

Concluding How We Use More than Ten Percent of Our Brains

So I hope it’s obvious after reading this, that this old theory of how humans are walking around utilizing 10% of their brain simply isn’t true.

But I do believe our potential as the dominant species on Earth is limitless. It never hurts to push oneself toward greatness and to always strive to achieve more. But unfortunately when we aren’t able to complete our wish list, it won’t do any good to blame it on your lack of that other 90%.

For further reading on the subject, check out this very informative article on the website called Do We Use Only 10% of Our Brains?

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5 thoughts on “Do We Really Only Use Ten Percent of Our Brains
  1. Hey,

    Thats what i was debating on a week ago. You really hit the spot. These movies Limitless, Lucy advocate this myth.,

    1. Yah I know, it’s really insane. I can’t believe this myth has gained so much authority. It’s really sad to think we’re only capable of 10% of our potential…lol

  2. I have often thought that this was a blithe, tossed off, quote. I had no idea, though, that we were referencing a quote that was almost 80 years old.

    Now, I feel as if I’m actually using my brain to it’s fullest extent – even when I;m sleeping. Thanks, Robert.

    1. You’re very welcome Samantha, believe me I was quite pleased to learn that this old saying did not hold any merit. I for one am a firm believer that our brains require food for learning and it’s up to us to develop our full potential. We can’t rely on a lame excuse of “I must not be able to use that part of my brain yet” lol

  3. I remember learning that we only use 10% … at any one time. This seems like an important distinction.

    Some people don’t seem to use even that much, though, haha

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