“We only use 10% of the brain”: myth or reality?

Normally, in such articles, it is advisable not to use the first paragraph to answer the question posed in the title. However, there are special cases, like this, where it is virtually impossible to perpetuate uncertainty based on the most absolute of everything.

We only use 10% of the brain – one of the most popular science myths

No, it’s not true that we only use 10% of the brain. It is a myth, first of all, because it is based on an assertion that is too ambiguous not to be (what does “use the brain” mean? How are these remaining 90% distributed?), Because although disguised as scientific knowledge when asked as a question of percentages, it is not supported by empirical evidence (in fact, the origin of this idea is attributed to Albert Einstein, One of the greatest scientific references which, despite its merits, did not specialize in the functioning of the brain).

However, despite the inaccuracy of this belief, it is possible to refute it on several fronts. Precisely because in addition to being ambiguous, it is false.

10% of the brain means low efficiency

First of all, it should be noted that unused brain tissue is probably dead brain tissue. Our bodies work in response to the strictest efficiency criteria, and many parts of the body that are not wasted tend to to be transformed into something more useful.

Neurons, in particular, are subjected to a type of ordered and programmed cell death, the so-called apoptosis, Which serves to improve the general functioning of the brain. In this way, the materials with which these cells were made are reused and there is room for other connections. At the individual level, moreover, neurons need to receive electric shocks with a certain frequency in order not to die.

A burden for evolution

Also, a big and useless brain, like what we might assume in the case of the 10% brain myth, is a burden. from an evolutionary point of view. No animal is interested in having an overdeveloped organ that does not use all it should: more than a potentiality, it is a problem.

The human brain, in particular, tops the ranking of the organs that consume the most energy, and so it makes no sense to maintain a part that is unnecessary. It would be pointless for this remaining 90% to be “unlocked” and used in the future: if it had not been used by default, evolution would have smoothed it over the millennia until it practically disappeared. .

Turn it on and off

Imagine for a moment that this hidden part of the brain is not located in a fixed place, but constantly changing, and that it cannot be located in a specific place in the brain, but is distributed by living neural networks. in U.S. Would it make sense to believe that we only use 10% of the brain? Well no, neither.

Functionally, the fact that at certain times there are “off” neurons does not mean that they are not used. Like good nerve cells, part of the process by which neurons communicate with each other is based on the rate at which electricity is triggered. Therefore, since the information they are working with is, at times, the trigger frequency, there must be times when no electrical waves are passing through the neuron. Likewise, for the brain to be useful, there must be some areas of tissue that are more active than others: when listening to a piece of music, it is not essential to have the centers of the brain. very active language, and when trying to recognize someone’s face, it is not necessary to mentally repeat the sequence of tai chi positions.

Having all areas of the brain intensely activated would be impractical and, moreover, would have disastrous health consequences and maintaining consciousness.

The inaccessible realm of the unconscious

The concept of consciousness it also allows us to understand why it is not wrong to believe that we only use 10% of the brain. The brain is essentially an organ dedicated to maintaining unconscious processes. Small awareness of the enormous amount of unconscious tasks we perform each day: from directing most facial gestures to maintaining balance, to involuntary remembering a past experience or associating a one word piece of music that we read in a magazine.

The subconscious governs almost all our actions, and not by being discreet ceases to exist. It is possible that the myth of the 10% of the brain is based on the desire to master all those processes that cannot be mastered and yet demonstrate incredible power and versatility. Unrealistic aspirations, of course, considering that consciousness hardly gives us mental divide and relatively short figures. The limits of consciousness may be narrow, but they do not limit our potential.

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