The 10 percent myth

The 10 percent myth

A common myth is that humans only use 10 percent of their brainpower. About 65 percent of Americans believe this, according to a 2013 study. A 1998 study showed that a third of psychology majors, who focus on the brain, also believe this.

However, scientists have consistently shown that humans use their entire brain throughout the day.

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An individual who has suffered brain damage will be unable to do certain things as a result of that damage. If the 10 percent myth were true, damage to about 90 percent of the brain wouldn't affect daily functioning.

But studies show that damaging even a small part of the brain can interfere with a function. Damage to the Broca's area prevents proper formation of words, but comprehension of language remains intact.

Neuropsychology is concerned with how the brain influences someone's behaviour, emotion, and cognition. Different parts of the brain are responsible for specific functions, but the entire brain works together to do an activity.

For example, while reading this text, parts of your brain responsible for vision, reading comprehension, and holding your phone, will be more active. On a brain image, these areas will appear in coloured splotches, while other areas will be grey. The grey areas are still active, just to a lesser degree.

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RELATED IDEAS

Myth: We only use 10% of our brains

We've heard this myth countless times from many different films or even in some of the fiction books we've read, but the reality is it continues to be a work of fiction. If this myth were true, we wouldn't be worried about brain damage that has profound consequences for our cognition and function.

The truth of the matter is that brain imaging techniques have demonstrated that the entire brain is being used even while we are asleep.

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IDEAS

The critical window of childhood

There is an assumption that in the first years of life the vast majority of the brain’s development occurs, and after this period, the trajectory of human development is more or less fixed. 
The truth is that experience can change both the brain’s physical structure and its functional organization— neuroplasticity. Also, mindful meditation can produce structural brain changes significant enough to be picked up by MRI scanners.

Re-reading and highlighting

Both of these study strategies are relatively ineffective. Passively reading the same text over and over again won’t do much for recall unless it’s spaced out over time. 

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