• Question: Is it possible to use more than 10% of your brain for knowledge?

    Asked by kamnathan15 to Aina, AlexAgrotis, Alex, Ambre, Anabel, Deepak, Emmanuelle, Ettie, James, Kaitlin, Kate, Lorena, Marianne, Matthew, MattyB, Nina, Patrick, Rachel, Rebecca, Ross, Ryan, Shobhana, Shonna, Thiloka, David on 20 Jun 2019.
    • Photo: Rebecca Moon

      Rebecca Moon answered on 20 Jun 2019:


      I dont think we know exactly how much of the brain is used for “knowledge”. It is certainly possible to remove half the brain and still survive and function as this is a treatment used for severe epilepsy.

    • Photo: Matthew Bareford

      Matthew Bareford answered on 20 Jun 2019:


      This is something which we have yet to discover exactly how much of the brain is used for ‘knowledge’ itself. but when you look at things such as the brain of Einstein, this had increased sized in particular areas, and so the overall amount her would have been using would have been more than 10% if that is what those areas were being used for…

    • Photo: David Wilson

      David Wilson answered on 20 Jun 2019: last edited 20 Jun 2019 12:30 pm


      This isn’t something i’m familiar with but I’ve heard the myth before so I’m going to paraphrase the wiki page about this for everyone’s interest:
      .
      “The 10 percent of the brain myth is a widely perpetuated urban legend that most or all humans only use 10 percent (or some other small percentage) of their brains. It has been misattributed to many people, including Albert Einstein.”
      .
      “Neurologist Barry Gordon describes the myth as false, adding, “we use virtually every part of the brain, and that (most of) the brain is active almost all the time.””

      “If 10 percent of the brain is normally used, then damage to other areas should not impair performance. Instead, there is almost no area of the brain that can be damaged without loss of abilities.”
      .
      “In debunking the ten percent myth, Knowing Neurons editor Gabrielle-Ann Torre writes that using one hundred percent of one’s brain would not be desirable either. Such unfettered activity would almost certainly trigger an epileptic seizure.”

    • Photo: Kaitlin Wade

      Kaitlin Wade answered on 20 Jun 2019:


      I’m not sure the 10% myth is correct or at least we don’t use just 10% for knowledge. Knowledge is complex, involving both short-term and long-term memory, which is stored in a different part of the brain that we actively use for cognition. The brain is very, very complicated!

    • Photo: Nina Rzechorzek

      Nina Rzechorzek answered on 20 Jun 2019:


      The brain is certainly very ‘plastic’ and can be trained to expand connections within certain areas through experience (this is why revision works!), but as the others have said, there is no one distinct brain region that determines ‘all knowledge’ as far as we know – knowledge involves the interaction between many brain regions integrating experience, emotion, and memory, and you definitely use more than 10% of your brain to acquire and retain knowledge. This is a really nice summary TED video on why the 10% myth is not real:

      https://www.brainfacts.org/Thinking-Sensing-and-Behaving/Thinking-and-Awareness/2016/What-Percentage-of-Your-Brain-Do-You-Use-051716

    • Photo: Anabel Martinez Lyons

      Anabel Martinez Lyons answered on 21 Jun 2019:


      Great question – as the others have said, it’s not confirmed that we do in fact only use 10% of our brains for all of our various physical and cognitive functions. My brother had brain surgery to treat epilepsy and (very thankfully) despite having several cubic centimeters of brain removed is perfectly heathy and function 15 years later (also now without seizures – woo hoo!). But it goes to show that despite removing a part of the brain, the body still functions normally or very near to normal, which is phenomenal. I do think that much of the brain is used but not all the time, and that it is possible to strengthen certain neural pathways and connections (as Nina said) with practice. Summary: you can probably use more than 10% of your brain, but not sure how much is for sensing and relaying information to your muscles and other tissues, and how much is used for memory and cognition (learning languages, studying for an exam, remembering lyrics from a song, etc.).

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