Science Questions

How much of the brain do we use?

Sun, 23rd Sep 2012

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Question

Martin Majercak asked:

Hey there,

 

My name's Martin and I have a question about human brain. How is it with the quapacity of the brain that we use? Because theres this well known fact that we only use like ten percent of it, but I somewhere heard that we use as much of it as it is needed at the moment so it could be according to that like 90 percent for example. But isnt it like that every input is stored somewhere in the brain like every name, every face, every mathematic definition but it is just somewhere in the dark side of the brain library far away from that part that we normaly use?

 

Thank you for your time and answer sincierely.

 

All the best.

 

Martin

Answer

Ginny -   Well, the short answer is, no. Basically, our brain is a really, really expensive organ.  It takes a lot of energy to run a brain and it just wouldn’t be evolutionarily sensible to keep expanding all these energy on a brain, if we weren’t using most of it.  Actually, we tend to see the phrase “use it or lose it” in terms of brain activity in neurons, which basically means that the more you use an area of the brain, the bigger it gets, the stronger it gets, the more neuronal connections you get.  And actually, if you stop using that area, it will get taken over by something else that you're using more.

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@NakedScientists: not sure if i use 100% of my brain but I wouldn't want ANY of it removing thank you! was tweeted by @JennyinRome @JennyinRome, Thu, 7th Jul 2011

Martin Majercak asked the Naked Scientists: Hey there, My name's Martin n I have a question about human brain. How is it with the quapacity of the brain that we use? Becouse theres this well known fact that we only use like ten percent of it, but I somewhere heard that we use as much of it as it is needed at the moment so it could be according to that like 90percent for example. But isnt it like that every input is stored somewhere in the brain like evry name,every face, every mathematic definition but it is just somewhere in the dark side of the brain librry far away from that part that we normaly use? Thank you for your time and answer sincierely. All the best. Martin What do you think? Martin Majercak , Thu, 7th Jul 2011

The idea that we only use 10% of our brain is a myth. The brain is notoriously greedy when it comes to energy consumption. If 90% of its mass is doing nothing but sitting around and burning calories without making itself useful by regulating hormone levels, responding to external stimuli, thinking creatively, etc., there would have been strong selective pressure to get rid of that extra brain mass during the time period before humans could grow and store their own excess food. Supercryptid, Thu, 7th Jul 2011

http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?topic=39877.msg360990#msg360990 RD, Thu, 7th Jul 2011

There is a part of the brain that can be removed that does not have any effect on the way we function and no one knows what it does. 

I cannot find any information about this though and only know of it due to watching a documentary.... This link will give you access to the doc. Warning, it is three hours long and as the introduction says is compelling and at times disturbing, I have to say I had a lump in my throat several times during it.  The part that is all about the brain is part three entitled, Broken Brains.  http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/brain-secret-history/ Aaron_Thomas, Thu, 7th Jul 2011

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