How true is the saying that humans only use 10% of our brain capacity. If true, then why can’t we reach the other 90% ?

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018 by Marie

To think that we use only 10% of our brain’s capacity might be myth. The number was probably given randomly in some old famous quote. I really don’t know and will appreciate if someone can educate us.

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dommyzdynasty 3 years 1 Answer 1339 views 1

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  1. This answer is edited.

    The concept that we use less than 100% of our brain has 19th Century origins (…), but has become a science(?) fiction trope that is without any actual scientific credibility. It deserves to die, but idiotic books, movies like Lucy, and TV shows like Limitless keep resurrecting it because their writers seem unable to come up with better, original plot devices.

    Despite appearances, everyone always uses 100% of their brains all the time. No part of your brain is loafing. No spare, residual, unused capacity is built-in. It’s too expensive (energetically, evolutionarily, personally) to have unused brain capacity just sitting around, doing nothing.

    Recreating You and Your Universe inside your skull takes a lot of constant processing and energy ( This is known because we can measure brain metabolic activity. Besides…

    Neurons do not have “off” switches. They never goof off; they’re “on,” alert, armed and ready for action (potentials). They maintain electrical potential gradients across their membranes that are truly “shocking” (yeah, I know it’s just mV, but those membranes are thin). They store up synaptic ammo, they keep their powder dry and their barrels clean and their tasers charged…and all the while they’re evaluating myriad inputs and assessing whether they need to pull the trigger, or grow a synaptic bouton here, or a dendritic spine there, or ooze peptides elsewhere, or secrete neurotropic factors somewhere, or neurotrophic factors wherever…..

    Many people asking and answering these types of questions seem to think that soma and axon action potentials are a profound measure of brain activity. Not true. Dendrites, for instance spike much more often than somas (…). In any event, action potentials utilize a minuscule amount of the energy maintained across a neuron’s cell membrane and they manifest only one aspect of an extremely active cell. Neuron axons aren’t firing most of the time (…), but even when no spiking occurs, neurons are busy, busy, busy, everyone of them, all the time. For instance, dendrite filopodia writhe, snake-like, as they restlessly make and break synaptic connections*.


    Michael Soso, PhD, Physiology/Biophysics/Psychology and MD, Neurology

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