The human brain works at 10%. True or myth?


Man is the pinnacle of evolution. It is difficult to argue with this, since no living creature has the same complex thinking. In addition, as you know, we still do not fully realize all the potential inherent in us by nature. There is a popular opinion that a person uses no more than 10% of the capabilities of his brain.

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Are our possibilities really endless, and the whole problem is only in overcoming the invisible and incomprehensible barrier put up by whom? In fact, in this case we are talking about another beautiful legend. Some people call it Albert Einstein himself.

How did the legend come about?

It is widely believed that our brain does not use all of its volume. One has only to “reconfigure” it, as the “superman” will be born. And this idea is at the heart of many science fiction films and books. But what is the unused part of the brain? Are you talking about its potential or physical limitations? How does our brain work, and can we make it work at full capacity? It’s no secret that some people are phenomenal when it comes to memory and math. It seems tempting to discover some superpowers in yourself.

The legend of the hidden powers of the brain may have also originated from the work of William James and Boris Sideis. At the end of the 19th century, they tested their theory of accelerated development on the son of Boris. William Sideis became a child prodigy with almost the highest IQ in history. The genius himself also believed that people have hidden opportunities, you just need to learn how to fully use your brain.

And the phrase about using 10% of our mental abilities appeared in the preface to Dale Carnegie’s book already in 1936. At the turn of the century, thanks to science, mankind began to rapidly discover a lot of new things, it seemed that our brain also harbors hidden possibilities.

There is another reason for the appearance of such a legend. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, scientists actively studied the capabilities of the brain. But the functions of its individual parts turned out to be so complex that neuroscientists did not fully understand the purpose of the departments. And the statement “at any given time we use only 10% of our brain” has slightly changed and formed a beautiful myth. Even today science, although it has understood the functionality of most parts of the brain, does not know everything about the interaction of cells that is the cause of disorders and complex behaviors. It remains a mystery how the teamwork of departments generates consciousness. After all, no single center of conscious activity has been found.

And the beautiful legend was successfully used by enterprising businessmen who began to actively distribute manuals, courses and lessons on revealing the true potential of the brain. Journalists and businessmen exploited quotes from William James. Although he did not give any numerical estimates, but reasoned about the unrealized potential due to the lack of motivation and laziness. 2/3 of the world’s population still believes in the created legend.

An estimate of 90% also appeared at the beginning of the 20th century. Scientists have found that the brain is 90% glial cells. But why they are needed – then no one knew, they were simply considered useless. But today it has become clear that cells are a kind of routers, providing communication between neurons. In those same years, scientists discovered that at different times, certain parts of the brain are active, but the whole brain does not work. Moreover, if this happens, then the person experiences an epileptic seizure. Such a state is clearly not like the appearance of superpowers. And the whole point is that those neurons that are supposed to be silent are activated – overexcitation is transmitted to the muscles, which shudder in convulsions.

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Is the human brain working at 10%? Scientists answer

Today neuroscientists sneer at how we use only 10% of our brain power. A person uses almost all parts of this organ, which are active, depending on what we are doing. There are other very obvious reasons as well. Evolution is a kind of “scissors”, eliminating unnecessary things in living organisms. But our brain is an important consumer of energy and oxygen. Although an organ weighs only 2% of body weight, it consumes up to 20% of all energy. If 90% of the brain was “asleep”, then people with less brain size would have an evolutionary advantage. Natural selection over time would simply eliminate individuals with a waste of energy. Yes, and it is not clear how and why nature could in general form such a large brain that a person does not need to survive. Among other things, an enlarged skull carries an increased risk of death at birth. All these factors would cause the extinction of people with a large unused part of the brain.

Modern diagnostic tools: MRI and tomography, make it possible to observe the work of the brain live. It is obvious that he is constantly in activity even at the time of our sleep. And “dead” zones can appear only as a result of physical damage to the organ. Scientists have found that our brain is not a single center, but is divided into departments. Each has a specific function. It took many years to study them. But now it is known that there are no such departments that do nothing at all. Neuroscientists know about the death of extra neurons and the connections between them. This, again, is subordinated to natural logic – to destroy the meaningless. If 90% of the brain were inactive, then upon dissection, massive cell degeneration would be detected. But this is not noted.

Scientists have long stopped trying to uncover the very 90% of the brain’s capabilities. It is obvious that at the moment of maximum intellectual tension in every person, the brain is used at 100% of its capabilities. This implies that at the moment of our rest, the brain is not working at its maximum capacity, nevertheless, it continues to monitor the state of organs and is ready to immediately activate.

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Can the brain be taught to work more efficiently?

And if our brain doesn’t have a secret storeroom, then can’t we make it work better? Excitation of all available neurons is a dangerous thing, but the efficiency of the organ can be increased. It turns out that at birth, the human brain has more neurons than an adult. But there is still no connection between them – the child is just learning to see, hear, talk. And new skills form connections between neurons, improving the performance of a specific part of the brain. But such connections are formed precisely in childhood. It is no coincidence that Mowgli children are never able to adapt to modern society. And a child who has not seen anything since birth (for example, due to cataracts) will never learn to see, even if the cause of the problem disappears.

There is an important period during which neural connections are formed. And if the brain does not learn certain actions at this moment, then this will never happen. This applies not only to sight, but to hearing, taste, motor skills, and smell. Only training, which is actively used in childhood, can make the brain work better. If you take care of the brain and do not load it, then in the future it will not be able to perceive many new things. That is why the role of the school is so important, and our children adapt much faster than us to new conditions, requirements and technologies. It is necessary to train the brain from childhood.

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