The Brain Myth


The notion that humans only use approximately 10% of their brain has been perpetuated without any evidence. No one really knows its origin, perhaps a misunderstanding of the words of William James (1842-1910), an American psychologist and philosopher who wrote in his 1908 essay, The Energies Of Men, “We are making use of only a small part of our potential mental and physical resources.” Among his other notable works is, The Subjective Effects Of Nitrous Oxide.

Myths are notoriously difficult to trace, partially because they have multiple sources and are often culturally defined, adding and synthesizing the moral implications at its core, but, assuming it was true, it would mean we could still function if 90% of the brain were removed. A difficult statement for any credible scientist to agree with, and yet so many people still believe we only use a fraction of our brain.

Ask any neurologist and they would probably say, “Neural pathways are difficult to map althoughneurologistdroliversacksspeakscolumbiazafp6et1g6ol removing part of the brain can have devastating effects on behavior,” a meaningless statement to co-notate that science still knows very little about the brain, suggesting we probably have not tapped its true capability assuming that it could be measured scientifically. When was the last time you heard anyone say, “I’ve lived up to my full potential.”

On the other hand, it is difficult to disagree that education affords the opportunity to increase latent ability, it’s still unclear whether that means more brain utilization is involved. Perhaps motivation or some unknown force is at play, although intelligence is known to be more than what is measured by the IQ test. Parents however still proudly beam when their children achieve a high mark. Many still associate increased brain capacity with smartness and imagine super human abilities of memory, telepathy or telekinesis. Whether this is delusion, the work of science fiction or fact yet to be revealed, there is always hope that brain function can be enhanced as evolution proceeds.

One way to increase and train brain skills in the privacy of your own home, aside from reading, is known as The Brain Fitness Kit, a wonderful gift idea for Christmas found on “It contains 108 fully illustrated giant puzzle cards designed to test both logical and lateral thinking! Plus it comes complete with a set of instructions and a timer. Play it on your own and beat the clock or compete with a friend and beat them senseless by showing off your grey matter at an affordable $14.95.”

Read more about brain myths at neuroscience for kids (