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Author Topic:   Humans only use approximately 10% of their brain?
timothy223
Junior Member (Idle past 3144 days)
Posts: 3
From: New Zealand
Joined: 10-10-2008


Message 1 of 31 (485711)
10-10-2008 8:27 PM


Hi all, Im new to these forums. I have a simple question that I need answered:

I have heard it from science magazines, newspapers and various people that the average human only use approximately 10% of their brain.

First of all,

How do scientists accurately determine this? Active parts of a human brain during consciousness? How many people did they trial this on? Whats the other 90% or so doing?

Second of all,

How could a human that has evolved be using less than 100% of its brain unless humans have de-evolved some how? Unless the 'random evolution' somehow 'evolved too far' and now humans have ended up with all this wasted brain space? I dont understand.

Thanks for reading, answers very appreciated!

Mike

Edited by Adminnemooseus, : Topic title changed from "Evolution with Intelligence?" to "Humans only use approximately 10% of their brain?"


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Adminnemooseus
Director
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Joined: 09-26-2002
Member Rating: 2.7


Message 2 of 31 (485741)
10-11-2008 4:08 AM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.
    
Taz
Member (Idle past 789 days)
Posts: 5069
From: Zerus
Joined: 07-18-2006


Message 3 of 31 (485746)
10-11-2008 4:20 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by timothy223
10-10-2008 8:27 PM


timothy223 writes:

I have heard it from science magazines, newspapers and various people that the average human only use approximately 10% of their brain.


I'm sure others can explain this better than I can, but here goes.

This is totally not true. Humans DO use 100% of our brain. That science magazine you read was referring to the possible neural connections that people make.

How could a human that has evolved be using less than 100% of its brain unless humans have de-evolved some how? Unless the 'random evolution' somehow 'evolved too far' and now humans have ended up with all this wasted brain space? I dont understand.

No such thing as "devolve". As to the rest, I'll leave them to our resident brainologists.
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bluegenes
Member
Posts: 3119
From: U.K.
Joined: 01-24-2007
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 4 of 31 (485748)
10-11-2008 4:42 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by timothy223
10-10-2008 8:27 PM


Myth, apparently.
timothy223 writes:

I have heard it from science magazines, newspapers and various people that the average human only use approximately 10% of their brain.

Science magazines? It's a myth, and this Wiki excerpt gives some of the possible origins. It is true that only 10% of the cells are neurons, but the other cells do have function.

quote:

Common misconceptions....

Humans use only 10% or less of their brain:

Even though many mysteries of brain function persist, every part of the brain has a known function.
This misconception most likely arose from a misunderstanding (or misrepresentation in an advertisement) of neurological research in the late 1800s or early 1900s when researchers either discovered that only about 10% of the neurons in the brain are firing at any given time or announced that they had only mapped the functions of 10% of the brain up to that time (accounts differ on this point).
Another possible origin of the misconception is that only 10% of the cells in the brain are neurons; the rest are glial cells that, despite being involved in learning, do not function in the same way that neurons do.
Einstein is reported as quipping that people typically only use 10% of their brains. The popular press took this as fact, although the comment was meant only facetiously.
Lower level of brain activation does not mean a lower performance of cognitive functions; this variable has confounded scientists, because some 'gifted' individuals showed less activity than the average person. Haier proposed that indeed more gifted individuals might possess more efficient brain circuits.
Some New Age proponents propagate this belief by asserting that the "unused" ninety percent of the human brain is capable of exhibiting psychic powers and can be trained to perform psychokinesis and extra-sensory perception. However, there is still no actual proof of this, and many neurologists say that this is not possible.


From Wiki

That seems to make your evolution question irrelevant, although I'm sure there are still plenty of mysteries in brain evolution. An interesting point in that excerpt is that high activity doesn't necessarily mean more efficiency.

Edited by bluegenes, : No reason given.


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Larni
Member
Posts: 3943
From: UK
Joined: 09-16-2005


Message 5 of 31 (485750)
10-11-2008 6:07 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by timothy223
10-10-2008 8:27 PM


Welcome to EvC! It's a good place to learn if you can learn.

It's a myth.

It gets bandied about because most people can't be arsed to look it up or like to think that that 'extra' 90% can be used for ESP or some such.

Brain cells such as schwann cells or glial cells don't do the business of 'thinking' as such and yet they are a big, big part of the brain; so physically they make up non neuronal mass.

In other terms, balance, homeostasis, and perception take up a massive amount of 'thinking power' that does not require conscious thought.

Maybe, if you clutch at as many straws as you can find in a straw filled straw factory you could say that 10% of our brain goes towards conscious thought and decision making but that's about it.

There's tons going on 'under the bonnet'.

How do we know this? It's been proved in tests: Google them.

ABE: Sorry about the tone and the use of the word proved, I'm terribly hung over and I have to go and play Warhammer soon; good grief.

ABE: and it seems I have been slow ninja'd by bluegenes

Edited by Larni, : Acknowledging being slow ninja'd.

Edited by Larni, : Welcome note.


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DC85
Member (Idle past 4 days)
Posts: 855
From: Richmond, Virginia USA
Joined: 05-06-2003


Message 6 of 31 (485758)
10-11-2008 10:20 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by timothy223
10-10-2008 8:27 PM


quote:
I have heard it from science magazines, newspapers and various people that the average human only use approximately 10% of their brain.

This simply isn't true.
Here's the thing, though; it's not really true. In addition to those 100 billion neurons, the brain is also full of other types of cells that are continually in use.

If the average human brain weighs 3 lbs and 90% of it was removed, that would leave 0,3 lbs of brain tissue. That's about the size of a goats brain. If damage to a small area of the brain, such as that caused by a stroke, may cause major disabilities. Conditions like parkinsons "infect" only specific areas of the brain. The damage caused by these conditions is far less than damage to 10% of the brain.

quote:
How could a human that has evolved be using less than 100% of its brain unless humans have de-evolved some how? Unless the 'random evolution' somehow 'evolved too far' and now humans have ended up with all this wasted brain space? I dont understand.

Even though the 10% statement is false you seem to make the bold assumption evolution as purpose. Can't evolve "too far" if there was no set path. It just has a "whatever works" feel to it. Humans and all living things have whats called "junk" DNA and organs that simply have no use... It just is. They may have once had a use or in the case of most DNA just mutation.

Edited by DC85, : No reason given.


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dwise1
Member
Posts: 2912
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 4.4


Message 7 of 31 (485769)
10-11-2008 2:46 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by timothy223
10-10-2008 8:27 PM


I have heard it from science magazines, newspapers and various people that the average human only use approximately 10% of their brain.

The second and third sources you list I could understand, but science magazines? Could you please share with us just which "science magazines" you had read that?

OK, Omni I could understand. Is that thing still around?

Yes, it's false. It's a false factoid, an urban legend. And whenever you encounter an urban legend (often in the form of those chain emails certain friends and family members keep sending to everybody), you need to check it out. The first place many of us go to is snopes.com -- whenever my mother-in-law would forward one, it was a race between me and her son and daughter to get to snopes.com first.

The applicable article is at http://www.snopes.com/science/stats/10percent.asp.

Now, if that instead said (and that is probably what the originator meant) that we only use a fraction of our potential mental abilities, then that would make sense. But we still need all our wet-ware.


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AnswersInGenitals
Member
Posts: 488
Joined: 07-20-2006


Message 8 of 31 (485809)
10-11-2008 8:53 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by timothy223
10-10-2008 8:27 PM


Ten percent sounds about right.
IT'S ABSOLUTELY TRUE! (I'm using caps because I seem to be disagreeing with all previous posts - should use 20 point and mauve text.) Well, no-one really knows how much of our brains we actually use, but at any given time, its probably 10 % or less. How much of your muscles are you using at this minute? Or your spleen or large intestine? If I'm driving my five seater car alone with an empty trunk I could say I'm only using 10 to 20 % of my car. Right now, I'm using 0%. As you sit there reading this post (if I may be so presumptuous) your computer is using less than 10% of its processor chip's transistors and probably a lot less than 10% of its ram and disk memory.

Part of the problem here is that people tend to think of the brain as a single organ with a single function - thought. That is like thinking of the chest or the abdomen as a single organ, when in fact, it is made up of several distinct organs performing many distinct but interconnected and interdependent functions. The brain is made up of over 20 organs including hormone producing glands as well as the functions we associate with conscious and sub conscious thought. Even the neocortex, which is associated with the "higher" brain functions, (it is really unnecessarily pejorative to consider all the other brain functions as "lower".) performs a large array of functions, only a few of which are called upon at any given time. Same goes for your car and for most complex objects. Question: What organ is used to the lowest percentage of its potential? (Hint: See my user name.)

I recall hearing the 10% comment 50 years ago with the implication that we were only using our brains to 10% of its potential capability. And, as I recall, the statement was made by someone with a science background. Which just goes to show that scientists are quite capable, when occasion permits, of talking through their arseholes, since we still have little idea what the brain is capable of. There is another context in which we could argue that our brains (and all other organs) are being used to 99% (or 1%) of their capacity. When I use my 4000 pound car to drive my svelte, Adonis-like self around, what efficiency should I assign to that process? If I could attach wheels to my feet and shove a couple of cylinders and pistons up my ass, I could probably get about 500 miles per gallon. Every one of our brain cells (and all our other body cells) are working away all the time (even when we're sleeping) consuming nutrients, energy, and oxygen just to keep themselves alive. Only a tiny part of what we eat and breath is used by our cells for the function they are required to perform. We are really very incredibly inefficient things.

The evidence that humankind is de-evolving to a lower life form with minimal brain use is not the statement you quote, but that a certain Mrs. Sarah Palin is being considered for the vice presidency of the United States.


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timothy223
Junior Member (Idle past 3144 days)
Posts: 3
From: New Zealand
Joined: 10-10-2008


Message 9 of 31 (485823)
10-12-2008 1:47 AM


Hi all,

Thanks for the replies. That snopes.com article cleared it up for me.

The 'sci mag' I believe was one made for young teenagers that I flicked through last year or the year before... I'll see if I can find a copy. Its a shame that this garbage is still being told to kids.


  
25684652 
Suspended Member (Idle past 2072 days)
Posts: 4
From: USA
Joined: 09-18-2011


Message 10 of 31 (634077)
09-18-2011 9:59 PM


{Spam and other blather deleted - Adminnemooseus}

Edited by Adminnemooseus, : See above.


    
Robert Byers
Member (Idle past 1866 days)
Posts: 640
From: Toronto,canada
Joined: 02-06-2004


Message 11 of 31 (634235)
09-20-2011 3:31 AM


I long ago heard this too and thought it stupid.
It couldn't be still generally a opinion because greatly I read always them going on about ethnic/race/sex intelligence comparisons based on brain size or brain this or that.
Yet if our brains were only 10% used then racial/sex theories would have no basis. tHese theories are based of coarse on evolutionary presumptions.

The bible teaches man has a soul and thinks with his heart. not his mind or brain.
The brain is merely a container for a thinking person.
probably its mostly to run the body and maintain memory.

Science fiction is wrong. brain size is unrelated to intelligence.
In fact I'm confident retardation is only a interference with memory.

Its just so wrong to see that our brain is our thinking ability.
Its just a machine with details to assist our innate thinking being.
We are made in Gods image and with his thinking ability.
nothing to do with a mechanical world.


Replies to this message:
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Larni
Member
Posts: 3943
From: UK
Joined: 09-16-2005


Message 12 of 31 (634239)
09-20-2011 3:53 AM
Reply to: Message 11 by Robert Byers
09-20-2011 3:31 AM


Yet if our brains were only 10% used then racial/sex theories would have no basis. tHese theories are based of coarse on evolutionary presumptions.

What race/sex based evolutionary theories would these be?


The above ontological example models the zero premise to BB theory. It does so by applying the relative uniformity assumption that the alleged zero event eventually ontologically progressed from the compressed alleged sub-microscopic chaos to bloom/expand into all of the present observable order, more than it models the Biblical record evidence for the existence of Jehovah, the maximal Biblical god designer.
-Attributed to Buzsaw Message 53

Moreover that view is a blatantly anti-relativistic one. I'm rather inclined to think that space being relative to time and time relative to location should make such a naive hankering to pin-point an ultimate origin of anything, an aspiration that is not even wrong.

Well, Larni, let's say I much better know what I don't want to say than how exactly say what I do.


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Robert Byers
Member (Idle past 1866 days)
Posts: 640
From: Toronto,canada
Joined: 02-06-2004


Message 13 of 31 (634480)
09-22-2011 1:58 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by Larni
09-20-2011 3:53 AM


I often bump into heredity theories based on genetics trying to show women are less brainy then men or show this etnic/race is higher or lower then others.
its quite common.
In fact a famous book called the bell curve was made about it.
This message is a reply to:
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Pressie
Member
Posts: 1714
From: Pretoria, SA
Joined: 06-18-2010
Member Rating: 3.2


Message 14 of 31 (634488)
09-22-2011 5:12 AM
Reply to: Message 13 by Robert Byers
09-22-2011 1:58 AM


Thatís not true. The Bell Curve was a book written by a psychologist and a political scientist. No Evolutionary Biologist involved. Please also be aware that this was a book (anybody can write and publish a book if they have the funds). Writing a book doesn't make that book scientific. Furthermore, the central argument of the book was that intelligence is influenced by inherited and also environmental factors.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bell_Curve ,

Wiki writes:

Its central argument is that intelligence is substantially influenced by both inherited and environmental factors and is a better predictor of many personal dynamics, including financial income, job performance, chance of unwanted pregnancy, and involvement in crime than are an individual's parental socioeconomic status, or education level.

This also has no relation to the urban legend that humans only use 10% of their brains.


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Larni
Member
Posts: 3943
From: UK
Joined: 09-16-2005


Message 15 of 31 (634489)
09-22-2011 5:20 AM
Reply to: Message 13 by Robert Byers
09-22-2011 1:58 AM


Women do have, on average lower brain volume. People worry about that as if mean women are not as bright. There is no evidence that this is true and the differences in white and grey matter in the sexes also has no bearing on intelligence.

Reading maps and asking for directions though, biiig difference.

It is true that people are more stupid than they could be.


The above ontological example models the zero premise to BB theory. It does so by applying the relative uniformity assumption that the alleged zero event eventually ontologically progressed from the compressed alleged sub-microscopic chaos to bloom/expand into all of the present observable order, more than it models the Biblical record evidence for the existence of Jehovah, the maximal Biblical god designer.
-Attributed to Buzsaw Message 53

Moreover that view is a blatantly anti-relativistic one. I'm rather inclined to think that space being relative to time and time relative to location should make such a naive hankering to pin-point an ultimate origin of anything, an aspiration that is not even wrong.

Well, Larni, let's say I much better know what I don't want to say than how exactly say what I do.


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