How much of our brain do we actually use?


by Arian
Tags: brain
Arian
Arian is offline
#1
May22-06, 06:13 PM
P: 63
Yeah I was told by a friend we only used 90% of our brains? Is this true?
Phys.Org News Partner Medical research news on Phys.org
Pregnancy complications may be more common in immigrants from certain regions
Use of frozen material for fecal transplant successfully treats C. difficile infection
Death rates from pancreatic cancer predicted to rise in Europe in 2014
Mk
Mk is offline
#2
May23-06, 05:50 AM
P: 2,057
No, we use the whole thing. Maybe not to the fullest capacity, but we use the whole volume and mass of it.
selfAdjoint
selfAdjoint is offline
#3
May24-06, 08:21 PM
Emeritus
PF Gold
P: 8,147
Way back in the 1920s, some newspaper published somebody's idea that we only use 10% of our brain. Needless to say, almost nothing was known about the living brain in those days, and the opinion was worthless. However it got picked up and turned into an urban legend as friend heard it and retold it to friend. Your friend was a link in such a chain, but he got the percentages backwards.

eeka chu
eeka chu is offline
#4
May28-06, 02:43 PM
P: 53

How much of our brain do we actually use?


Our brains function like multicore CPU, with each core being specialised at a particular task. When that task isn't required, that area of the brain shows decreased levels of activity. Because the areas seem to be somewhat specialised, the areas with decreased levels of activity don't, or more likely can't, pick up work from the one's that are busy.

So, when you image someone's brain, you can find that quite a lot of the brain tissue isn't actually doing much. It's not helped by the fact that a lot of activity scans are extremely specific, for instance, noting colours or smells and nothing else. In such a test, you'd expect to see only small areas of activity, and that's what they're after so's that they can try to pinpoint specific areas related to specific tasks. If you were walking down an unfamiliar street, much more of your brain would probably start coming on as each of the 'cores' began evaluating the new environment.
somasimple
somasimple is online now
#5
May31-06, 09:59 AM
PF Gold
somasimple's Avatar
P: 716
Hi,

Normally we are using around 70% of our brain ressources but fortunately not at the same time. (temperature problem).

The myth of the 10% is just an old meme to forget.
Rach3
Rach3 is offline
#6
May31-06, 03:29 PM
Rach3's Avatar
P: 318
Is it a well-defined question? What quantitive measure can it be answered with? I don't think looking at an MRI and measuring the volume in which there is activity addresses this.
Rach3
Rach3 is offline
#7
May31-06, 03:32 PM
Rach3's Avatar
P: 318
The title of this thread is quite ironic, by the way.
michaelr
michaelr is offline
#8
May31-06, 04:03 PM
P: 3
there is only a small portion of our brain we use at any given time
as to say yes or no and know the meaning at that time given. In other
words on a yes reply your brain is giving you the go ahead in acceptance
to where if you used the total brain you would crash
Mk
Mk is offline
#9
May31-06, 04:11 PM
P: 2,057
Normally we are using around 70% of our brain ressources but fortunately not at the same time. (temperature problem).
Where does the 70% come from?
michaelr
michaelr is offline
#10
May31-06, 05:22 PM
P: 3
If you have to use 70% of your brain just to answer a question
yes or no somethings wrong. most people would use up about
5% of their brain to hear a question and about 5% to answer yes or no
to say it took 70% is astronormical.
Moonbear
Moonbear is offline
#11
May31-06, 10:16 PM
Emeritus
Sci Advisor
PF Gold
Moonbear's Avatar
P: 12,257
Quote Quote by eeka chu
So, when you image someone's brain, you can find that quite a lot of the brain tissue isn't actually doing much.
Those scans don't actually tell us much about what parts of the brain are active; instead, they tell us which parts of the brain are MORE active compared to a baseline value. This misunderstanding of how to interpret those scans only contributes to the myth that we use only a small portion of our brains at any given time.
Rach3
Rach3 is offline
#12
Jun2-06, 12:17 PM
Rach3's Avatar
P: 318
Quote Quote by Moonbear
Those scans don't actually tell us much about what parts of the brain are active; instead, they tell us which parts of the brain are MORE active compared to a baseline value. This misunderstanding of how to interpret those scans only contributes to the myth that we use only a small portion of our brains at any given time.
That's why I'm interested to know whether there even exists a meaningful, quantitative way to ask this question. Given that the whole business is emergent phenomena, I'm leaning towards "no".
selfAdjoint
selfAdjoint is offline
#13
Jun2-06, 03:16 PM
Emeritus
PF Gold
P: 8,147
Quote Quote by Rach3
That's why I'm interested to know whether there even exists a meaningful, quantitative way to ask this question. Given that the whole business is emergent phenomena, I'm leaning towards "no".

What percentage of the internet is active at any given moment? I agree with you; it's very close to a meaningless question as stated.
eeka chu
eeka chu is offline
#14
Jun4-06, 06:14 PM
P: 53
That's a good point, but even still I don't think our brain is running anywhere near it's full capacity all of the time. If it was, we could expect to see very little / next to no change when you asked the person to concentrate on something specific, like a picture of a flower on a screen. Neither would there be much of a difference between normal, sitting around the house doing nothing levels of concentration and revision / idea generation levels. Where as we all know from personal experience that there's a big difference.

The brain lives in a dynamic environment and doesn't process things like a computer (one block after another), it has to work on demand a lot of the time and can't afford to go out of real time to formulate answers for things - least it be flattend by the approaching bus. So it's a good thing it has at least some degree of dynamic range spare for complex problems that require an immediate solution.
somasimple
somasimple is online now
#15
Jun7-06, 08:39 AM
PF Gold
somasimple's Avatar
P: 716
Where does the 70% come from?
I saw a scientific emission which stated it.
As I said, it was only a computation with oxygen consumption and heat produced?! If the percentage was reached, temperature rises to dangerous level. But it may be only a meme.
pallidin
pallidin is offline
#16
Jun7-06, 05:03 PM
P: 2,292
Isn't this kind of like asking "how much our arms do we actually use"
If you are resting, I suppose one's arms are not used much. But if one is lifting something, I suppose the usage is greater.

So isn't the "usage" conditional on situational application?

But perhaps you are rather asking if one can increase the potential capacity. If that's the case, using the example of arms, one could increase their lifting capacity by nutrition and exercise training.

I would suppose that the human brain can similary benefit through nutrition and "training"
Arian
Arian is offline
#17
Jun29-06, 09:28 PM
P: 63
Okay, let refine the question to how much of our brain do we use through are entire life time for any action like walking, talking, watching girls, playing games, thinking. Everything, what percent don't we ever use, or don't now how we use it.
citizen
citizen is offline
#18
Jul3-07, 11:24 AM
P: 1
The brain isn't really my specialty so please forgive me if this question is "dumb"...
If we could potentially use 100% of our brains at any given time then why do we forget things? It would seem where I parked would be well within the brain capacity and yet I have forgotten where I parked before...


Register to reply

Related Discussions
Brain Computer Brain interface, anyone? Medical Sciences 16
How does the Medieval brain compare to the modern brain? Medical Sciences 27
Left brain vs. Right brain personalities Biology 15