MYTH: We only use 10% of our brains.
Hollywood apparently loves this myth (“Lucy” and “Limitless” are two recent movies that come to mind). However, this is still a MYTH. In fact, we use 100% of our brains. The brain works largely on a “use it or lose it” basis. Neurons are constantly making new connections and pruning away connections that we don’t need/don’t use very often. For instance, if I asked what you wore yesterday (5/27/14), you could probably tell me because this connection was made yesterday and was still relevant. If I asked you in another year what you wore on 5/27/14, you probably couldn’t (unless it was a special event). This is because we don’t need to remember every detail of our lives, so our brain will prune away these connections/memories if we don’t continuously use them. It’s a smart system- we keep what we need and use and lose what we don’t (to make space for the other things that we need).
The brain does a lot- it’s what experiences the world for you and collects data to makes decisions. We must use all 100% that we have to accomplish these complicated feats.
I have no idea where this myth came from, but I’ve heard statistics that upwards of 2/3 the population do believe that we only use 10% of our brains. Please know that you do use 100% of what you have. For instance, if there is brain damage (i.e. Alzheimer’s disease), you will lose whatever that part of the brain did. There is no part of the brain that you can lose and still function normally (sometimes, other parts of the brain can compensate for that loss or it can be rebuilt, but there is still a loss). If we only used 10%, there would be a lot we could lose and not notice. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Our brain is very efficient and needs everything it has to function properly (without superpowers).