What percentage of the human brain is used?

Whoever said we use only 10% of your brain wasn't giving humans enough credit - we're way more effective than that!

23rd January 2016
What percentage of the human brain is used? (iStock)

Asked by: ANON

All of it! Every neuron in the brain is continually active, even if firing only slowly. Neurons that stop responding die. Even so, many people seem to believe that we use only part of our brain. It is extraordinary that such a myth can persist when it has so often been refuted. 

There are many stories about the origin of this myth – that early electroencephalograms could detect only a small percentage of the brain’s activity, or that early 20th-century researchers could find the functions for only about 10 per cent of the brain.

Alternatively it might have come from the more sensible speculation that we use only some of our brain’s potential. Potential is hard to measure or even to conceptualise. What might each of us potentially do if given every possible stimulation, training, superfood and so on?

All we can safely say is that each of us probably ‘could do better’, but not because we need to find unused bits of brain. They don’t exist.

 
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