It comes as no surprise Hollywood is perpetuating the brain myth two-thirds of the public and nearly half of science teachers believe: We only use 10 percent of our brains. In the trailer for the movie Lucy, starring A-lister Morgan Freeman as a neuroscientist, he mentions: “It is estimated most human beings only use 10 percent of the brain’s capacity. Imagine if we could access 100 percent.” Well, lucky for us, we don’t have to imagine. Our neuron-dense brain is active 24/7, giving the whole brain a workout in one day.
In a TED-E video, Richard E. Cytowic, a neurologist, debunks the neurological myth that derives from William James, an American psychologist-philosopher, who wrote “we are only making use of a small part of our possible mental and physical resources.” Since then, people have wrongly attributed the idea that we only use 10 percent of the brain’s capacity. In reality, “James meant this as a challenge, not an indictment, of scant brain usage," says Cytowic in the video.
This myth continued to grow as scientists saw damage to the massive frontal lobes or broad areas of the parietal lobe didn’t damage motor or sensory deficits, so they came to regard them as “silent areas.” However, without them we would hardly be human. They are crucial to abstract reasoning, planning, and deciding when it comes to weighing decisions and adapting to circumstances.
The human brain carries more neurons than any other species, as our brains sustain 86 billion densely packed neurons. Therefore, the brain has equipped itself with an energy efficiency plan since it has millions of “power hungry” neurons to maintain. These neurons help us complete our most basic functions — breathing and balance — which use more than just 10 percent of our brain.
Remember, one to 16 percent of cells are active at any moment. We use more than 10 percent of our brains, 100 percent of the time. Ninety percent is not left idle.