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The myth that we only use 10% of the brain it's an intriguing and enduring idea that has long captured people's imaginations. However, this belief does not hold up when confronted with modern scientific research. In this article, we'll delve into the origins of the myth, explore what neuroscience has to say, and examine the implications of this myth for our understanding of brain potential.
Historical origins and propagation of the myth
But how did it start? According to Paulo Jubilut, professor of biology and owner of a YouTube channel with over 3 million followers, "We don't know whether this false claim means that out of every ten brain cells, only one works. Or if only a tenth of the brain's mass is active. But none of these hypotheses is correct..
The myth that we only use a tiny fraction of our brain can be traced back to the end of the 19th century. Although it has been attributed to prominent figures such as Albert Einstein, there is no solid scientific basis for this claim. The myth persists due to a combination of misinterpretations and a dash of sensationalism, spreading through books, movies, and popular culture.
Two famous examples of movies that propagate this myth are No Limits (Limitless) e Lucy. In the first, starring Bradley Copper, the main character is a writer who finds himself in a frustrated moment and is faced with the opportunity to use a pill that increases brain capacity hundreds of times. Already in Lucy, Starring Scarlett Johansson, the character goes through a near-death experience which causes her to start using “more percentage of her brain” gradually. Both films are good and great entertainment, but propagate the idea that we only use 10% of the brain is something real.
Exploring the neuroscientific reality
Currently, neuroscience presents a strong rebuttal to the 10% brain myth, with substantial evidence from a variety of advanced brain imaging studies. Methods such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and the positron emission tomography (PET) shed light on the complex neural activity that takes place in our brain.
Even during resting states such as sleep, these technologies reveal that multiple brain regions remain active in a coordinated and synchronized manner. The realization that different parts of the brain work together to perform specific functions, ranging from cognitive processes to sensory responses and motor control, directly undermines the assumption that considerable areas of the brain remain inactive.
Consequences and misunderstandings arising from thes “10% of the brain”
The widespread acceptance of the 10% brain myth carries significant implications, reverberating into potentially damaging impacts. The strong belief in this misconception tends to result in the underestimation of the inherent complexity of the human brain, taking the understanding of its true multifaceted capacity to a secondary plane. Such a limited conception can, in turn, inhibit the full exploration of the cerebral potential, depriving us of the opportunity to discover new frontiers of knowledge and personal fulfillment.
In addition to the limiting aspect, the 10% brain myth has been manipulated for questionable commercial and therapeutic purposes. The commercialization of this distorted notion has served as the basis for the promotion of a series of products and therapies that claim to unlock the unused potential of the human brain. This opportunistic exploitation can not only divert precious resources, but also undermine confidence in scientifically based practices, creating an environment conducive to dubious approaches that lack empirical validation, thus leading people lacking this knowledge to buy these “dubious” products.
The full potential of the human brain
In place of get caught up in the myth, it becomes imperative to adopt an approach that values the full and comprehensive potential of the human brain. Brain plasticity, the phenomenon by which the brain is able to restructure its neural connections in response to stimuli and learning, emerges as tangible proof of the surprising malleability and adaptability of this extraordinary organ.
Rather than narrowing our horizons of understanding, it is vital to embrace the idea that each region of the brain plays an intrinsic role in our complex ability to reason, experience emotions, and direct actions. Recognizing and cultivating this intricate mosaic of brain activities is an approach that promotes the maximization of our intellectual and emotional potential.
The myth of the 10% of the brain, despite its persistence, does not withstand the scientific rigor and detailed analysis provided by modern neuroscience. This article has trodden the trails of its historical origin, unraveled its fallacies, and explored the implications it might have on our understanding of brain potential.
Understanding the complexity and breadth of brain activity, made possible by advanced imaging techniques, directly challenges the idea that large parts of the brain remain inactive. Each region of the brain plays a unique and vital role in contributing to the richness of our cognitive, sensory and motor experiences.
Furthermore, we recognize that spreading this myth can have negative ramifications, from underestimating the human brain to promoting misleading products and therapies. These consequences highlight the importance of embracing sound scientific research and basing our understanding on verifiable facts.
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reviewed by Glaucon Vital in 14 / 8 / 23.