How Much Brain Power Do We Use?

Transcript of Neuro Nugget Video:

The human brain is complex. It’s the wellspring of all human feelings, behaviors, experiences, as well as the repository of memory and self-awareness. So it’s no surprise that the brain remains a mystery unto itself.

Adding to that mystery is the contention that humans only employ 10% of their brain. If only regular folk could tap that other 90%, they too could become savants who remember to the 20,000th decimal place or perhaps even have telekinetic powers. Though an alluring idea, the 10% myth is so wrong, it’s almost laughable, says neurologist Barry Gordon at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore. The myth’s durability stems from people’s conceptions about their own brains. They see their own shortcomings as evidence of the existence of untapped gray matter. This is a false assumption.

What is correct, however, is that at certain moments in anyone’s life, such as when we are simply at rest or thinking, we may be using only 10% of our brains. “It turns out though, “that we use virtually every part of the brain, “and that most of the brain is active almost all the time.” So let’s put it this way, the brain represents 3% of the body’s weight, but uses 20% of the body’s overall energy. The average human brain weighs about three pounds and is compromised of the hefty cerebrum, which is the largest portion and performs all higher cognitive functions, the cerebellum, which is responsible for motor functions, such as the coordination of movement and balance, and the brain stem, dedicated to involuntary functions like breathing.

The majority of the energy consumed by the brain powers the rapid firing of millions of neurons communicating with each other. The rest of its energy is used for controlling other activities, both unconscious activities such as heart rate and conscious ones, such as driving a car. This isn’t to say that if the brain were damaged that you wouldn’t be able to perform daily duties.

There are people who have injured their brains or had parts of it removed who still live fairly normal lives, but that is because the brain has a way of compensating and making sure that what’s left takes over the activity. Being able to map the brain’s various regions and functions is part of understanding the possible side effects, should a given region begin to fail. Experts know that neurons that perform similar functions tend to sorta cluster together. For example, neurons that control the thumb’s movement are arranged next to those that control the forefinger. Thus, when undertaking brain surgery, neurosurgeons carefully avoid neural clusters related to vision, hearing and movement, enabling the brain to retain as many of its functions as is possible.

What’s not understood is how clusters of neurons from the diverse regions of the brain collaborate to form consciousness. So far, there’s no evidence that there is one site for consciousness. Ultimately, it’s not that we use 10% of our brains, merely that we only understand about 10% of how it functions. Wanna learn more about your brain and how it functions? Go and schedule your brain map today.


Posted on

July 19, 2023