The “myth-tery” of our brains by Victoria Mugambi
We’ve all heard the myth that we as humans only use 10% of our brain’s mental abilities. This misbelief is still a prevalent lie used in movies, magazines, books and other media outlets.
A recent example of this is seen in the movie “Lucy,” in which a woman gets a drug leaked into her system and becomes so smart she turns into a black glob. Throughout the movie it is suggested that, as she accesses more of her brain, she gains incredible capabilities such as telekinesis, mind-reading and accelerated learning competences. And although Morgan Freeman’s silky, smooth voice sounded very convincing, he is ultimately wrong. We do use more than just 10% of our brains.
Like most myths, it is hard to place its origin. It has been suggested that it started with Albert Einstein, who claimed that humans don’t use their full brain power. There are some who believe it was first started by well-known psychologist, William James. But the truth of the matter is that we use practically every part of our brains on a daily basis.
For example, neuroimaging techniques, such as MRI scans, show that almost every portion of our brain is active when completing simple tasks such as viewing an image or having a conversation. Not all areas are active at the same time, but that’s to be expected. Just like every muscle in our body isn’t active at the same time, we have areas in our brain that can go inactivated for periods of time depending on the activity one is engaged in.
Another reason why this myth is false lies behind the actual implication of only needing 10% of your brain. If this were true, that would mean that we have 90% of the brain going unused and taking up space and body mass. Though it would be nice to shed the extra 2.7 pounds that “unnecessary” 90% takes up, that would be extremely detrimental to our body.
Plus, if it were true that only 10% of our brain is used, we would rarely have to worry about tumors. Although it would be nice to hear: “Good news! Your tumor is in the area of the brain you don’t use!” damaging or removing any portion of the brain will lead to at least some changes in mood, thinking, functioning, and behavior in a person. I’m sure a neurosurgeon’s job would be much easier if it was as easy as slicing out a section like a piece of cake; however, that is not the case. They have to carefully plan out a method for removing the affected areas so as to leave the patient as healthy and mentally unscathed as possible.
It’s time that we as a society say goodbye to this outrageous myth and allow it to rest in peace with other myths, such as the myth about chocolate milk coming from brown cows or the body needing seven years to digest chewing gum. Although the idea of being able to send a pen flying towards your least favorite professor’s noggin by will sounds like a great capability. We are, unfortunately, already using our brain’s full potential on a daily basis.