Science Questions

Do we really only use 10% of our brains or is that a myth?

Sat, 25th Sep 2010

Part of the show Neuroimaging


Jakeb asked:

Do we really only use 10% of our brains or is that a myth?


We put this to Professor Jack Gallant and Professor Paul Fletcher...

Jack -   I think that’s definitely a myth.  We use a lot of our brains a lot of the time, and it switches back and forth all the time.  Which sub-systems of the brain are being used depends on the task and what you're trying to do, but the brain is there for a reason and you're using a lot of it most of the time.


Paul -   I was just thinking, the person who started that rumour was probably using 10% of their brain at the time, I think.


Chris -   Very good!  The point is, if you look at someone who’s had a stroke and they may have only lost a small amount of their brain, they nonetheless don't look normal or they may not behave entirely normally, indicating that you need all of your brain.  It’s just slightly less active at certain times.


Paul -   Yes.  I mean, one could add that people who’ve had a hemispherectomy – a whole half of their brain removed at an early age - actually go on to achieve great things intellectually.  So, if it happens early enough and the brain is sufficiently plastic, then actually you can do without a lot of the volume of the brain, but I think you would use what was there 100%.



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