How Much Of Your Brain Do You Actually Use?

How Much Of Your Brain Do You Actually Use?

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According to popular belief, the average human only uses about 10 percent of their brain’s total power.

So many people subscribe to this myth that there are plenty of books, presentations and reports that all illustrate our inability to utilize the entirety of the human mind. There are some who would even attribute their personal shortcomings and failures to this interesting statistic.

However, it simply isn’t true.

Some Real Statistics to Consider

Barry Gordon, a neurologist with the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, has noted that the average brain weighs about three pounds. While this only accounts for approximately three percent of one’s total bodyweight, this organ consumes approximately 20 percent of your daily energy allotment.

Moreover, various scientific studies have concluded that the majority of the human brain remains in a state of constant activity. While there are certain regions that might “turn themselves off” now and then, reports indicate that the average human actually uses 100 percent of their brain over the course of any given day.

Natural Selection at Work

Remember the concept of natural selection? Studied extensively in even the most basic of biology classes, natural selection dictates any evolution, mutations or genetic characteristics that affect any living species of animal. This naturally includes humans. Those who tout natural selection will be quick to point out that the human brain is susceptible to these modifications and alterations over time, just like our other organs.

If the myth of only using 10 percent of our brainpower were true, natural selection would have eliminated the remaining 90 percent a long time ago. In addition, certain diseases and injuries, which can lead to the loss of less than 90 percent of one’s brainpower, can have devastating consequences that can be seen, recorded and measured.

With these things in mind, it’s safe to say that a human who only used 10 percent of their brain would be as close to a non-functioning or non-sentient being as one could get.

Enjoying the Silence

Those who back up the myth are quick to point out that the brain maintains numerous areas that are, for the most part, completely silent. Modern medical technology has debunked this claim, instead revealing that many of these regions are really in a state of constant activity. They’re also used in decision-making, day-to-day planning and our ability to reason.

Further studies into these silent areas have also revealed that as many as 16 percent of the human brain’s cells are active at any given time. Considering this doesn’t even account for those which are engaged in brain-strengthening activities or mental exercises, it’s safe to say that the average person uses far more than 10 percent of their brain, every single day.

Tracking the Myth’s Origin

There’s been some disagreement about the origin of the myth that humans only use 10 percent of their brainpower. While some trace its roots back to the earliest discussions in the field of phrenology, others attribute to the misconception to psychologist William James, anthropologist Margaret Mead and, in some cases, to Albert Einstein himself. Despite the fact that it’s blatantly untrue, the rumor has persisted for well over 100 years.

Realizing Our Maximum Potential

Although the fact that we use 100 percent of our brain’s power on an average day may be counterintuitive for some, it’s nice to know that our bodies are capable of harnessing the capabilities of our minds. We’re much more likely to reach our full potential when we don’t have to worry about completely imaginary bottlenecks within the human brain.



  1. I enjoyed the take on this subject, however it still doesn’t explain why thereally are so many different capacities (to put it bluntly) the same tool. It would seem as if some had been given a flashlight while others a chandelier to illuminate the same part of the room, I believe that the myth wasn’t born out of pure imagination, but from remarkable individuals that just seemed to had been given quite a bit more than others in the brain usage, could it be that instead we are all given flashlights and that it depends on which areas we decide to shine that make others seem more remarkable than others? But since we have gotten as far as to only know what 10% does and have no clue what the other 90% does, isn’t that in some way also feeding the “myth” to put it simply, our phones today can do 100 things, I only know how to use 10 and that’s a given, those are normal functions like, calling, texting, emailing, taking pictures etc. Let’s say that those are the neurons which you explain are things we do and we don’t even have to think about doing, you could even call it in lame terms as instincts. Now every now and then I get press the button on my phone pertaining those areas I have no idea how to use, I get surprised and jumpy, but I can’t control it, if we don’t know what it does how do we know we are actually using it properly is the bottom line and when those parts light up are not just happy accidents, accidents that geniuses throughout history have learn to control? I apologize for my crude language and examples, but I am just a regular man with a curiosity in the middle of doctors

  2. All of the articles that state the 10% Brain Capacity idea is just a myth, assumes that it’s stating people only use 10 of their brain, and that in fact people are using all parts of their brain at the same time. My question about this is, my thought isn’t that we don’t use all parts of our brains at the same time, but that the throughput and neural connections used in any given part is only 10% of it’s capacity. Sure, all parts are active, however if you were to put the concentration of all usage on a color coded image, with usage increasing in to the amber spectrum, would you find the brain usage at yellow for 10% and orange or for say 30% etc. The difference is not that we’re not using it all, but how well we’re using all of it.

  3. I think this is article is missing the point of the question: “Do People Only Use 10 Percent of Their Brains?”. We do not know all there is to know about the human brain, so an assessment of “capacity” is almost futile. Is it storing all that it can? Can we recall everything that we experience? Is it as fast as it could be (and is there any way to improve that)? Can we train our brain to have all of the capacities that some few savants have developed? Do we know how to cure and eliminate brain related illnesses (Alzheimer’s, dementia, etc.). Muscles can be increased in size, strength and capacity for work (that is capacity). Can the brain experience similar increases in “capacity” (storage, retention, speed, etc.)?

  4. I have excellent proof that we don’t use 100% of our brains: Anterior temporal lobectomy!

  5. I understand, when you say the human only uses 10% of it’s brain’s capacity and knowledge but, haven’t you noticed all of this tumultuous formalities that the brain hasn’t even accomplished yet? We scantily use our brains anymore, because we’ve surrendered to the more sophisticated technology of our time, and people use the term ‘slang language’ like for instance ‘THOT’ I’m not being parsimonious to the African-American race, but it’s just an example. If we at least accessed 20% of our brain then our ambulatory cells would possibly move at an hypersonic rate, where our brain cells would move the same. The movie ‘LUCY’ that has come out in 2014, has more information than me. I am not saying that it is true (If you have already watched the movie) that, that particular thing would actually happen, but it will give you a more open-minded view of what would possibly happen.

  6. Is it really that hard of a concept? Using 100% of your brain and 100% of your brain’s capacity are two total different things!