Do You Normally Use 10% Of Your Brain?


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OpenStax Anatomy and Physiology

There are claims that humans only use 10% of their brains. You may have seen a commercial saying that you can unlock the full potential of your mind and use the remaining 90% that were sitting idle. Well, the fact is, this is a myth.

Brain activity can be measured using functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) while doing a task. With this technology, we can measure how much of the brain is being used by a person. fMRI can create a map of the most active regions of the brain and can be presented in 3D. This procedure can measure metabolic changes in the tissue that is being triggered by an experimental condition such as solving a problem or moving the arms.

The assumption is that more blood flows into the active nervous tissue. Brain activity can be measured by having a person perform a visual task. Consider this experiment: the person is told to look at a black dot at the center of a screen. A picture of a face is shown on the screen away from the center black dot. The person has to recognize who was in the picture. If the person recognizes the face in the picture, he or she has to push a button, otherwise button will be not pressed.

In this experiment, fMRI will show activity in visual sensory, integrating area, motor areas for moving the eyes, and motor areas for pressing the button. These areas can be found all over the brain and the fMRI will show activity in more than 10% of the brain. With this experimental event, already more than 10% of the brain is being used and does not even include the other functions the brain can do. The experiment does not include language response and most of the person’s body is lying motionless in the MRI machine. The autonomic functions going on the background is also not considered.

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Betts, J. G., Young, K. A., Wise, J. A., Johnson, E., Poe, B., Kruse, D. H., … DeSaix, P. (n.d.). Anatomy and Physiology. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at:


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