Neuromyth # 2

In this mini series, we will discuss the misnomers and myths around human brain. We discussed the myths around right and left brain here.

Today we will discuss the myth around capacity and potential of our brains.

Myth: We use only 10% of our brain and the other 90% is standby for spare capacity

Again there are many (neuro)science based techniques available in the market to unlock your brain's potential. I am not sure about unlocking of brain's potential but I am sure these techniques will surely unlock you wallet's potential 😜

Language & Ambiguity

Great thinkers like Albert Einstein , William Arthur and more did mention that most of us do not meet out mental potential.

Those words were not meant to be taken literally and made into a fact. On a hindsight, it sounds like a challenge to stretch our mental potential further than as an affirmative conclusion of our brain's capacity.

Five reasons why

Digging a little deep into history, here are five reasons why the 10% capacity misconception must be shattered.

  1. For a long time scientists couldn't figure out the reason behind the large frontal and parietal lobes in our brain. Cases like Phineas Gage just made the science community wonder the reason behind the existence of frontal lobes. Despite the injury the motor and sensory functions were intact. This made the scientists conclude that a large part of our brain is unused. Like gall bladder or tonsils they thought some areas of brain are not a necessity. Worse this was about 9/10th of the area and that made them conclude that we use only 1/10th of our capacity.
  2. Our frontal lobes control the executive functions like memory, emotions, impulse control, problem solving, social interaction etc. Without these functions we would hardly be human. In other words, the higher order functions like planning, decision making, reasoning and adapting would not be possible without the frontal lobes. So how could this be zoned as a silent area of our brains?
  3. With more nuanced measurement we were able to understand that our 2% body mass (our brain) consumes 20% of total energy. That number shoots up in growing children to 50%. If we used only 10% of our brain then our energy consumption must be ridiculously low.
  4. We hold about 86 billion neurons in our brain. This number is far higher (in proportion to body size) than any other primate out there. This number is unsustainable if we need to feed raw food everyday. (We have 40% more neurons than an ape who eats 8 hours of raw food a day). Thank god we invented cooking which kept 86B neurons intact in the most energy efficient manner.
  5. We consume about 3.4 X 10 power 21 ATPs (Adenosine Tri Phosphate) per minute to keep up the energy requirements. If all the 86 billion neurons fired at the same time it will be impossible to keep up the energy cost. This is why only 1-16% of cells are active at a time. This is the basis of our limited consciousness. To just conserve resources, a large portion of the brain operations are kept unconscious.

Our brains are energy efficient smart machines. We don't have to try more to be more smarter. We are already at our max.  Our evolution's latest product release is the most complex machine called our cortex. Let's not guilt trip ourselves into a fool's parody of 10% capacity.

🥂 to energy efficient meat machine 🧠!

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