You probably have heard that we only use 10% of our brain. It’s a very common popular belief that we have heard for a long time and makes us wonder, what if we used all of it?

The movie

In fact, there is a movie called ‘Lucy’ about this idea.

It’s a French thriller starring Scarlet Johansson and Morgan Freeman, about an American woman who lives in Taipei and gets kidnapped by some drug dealers. She is forced to work as a mule and by accident some drug is released into her system.

As a result, she starts using not only 10% but 20% and 30% to 100% and begins acquiring powerful abilities like telepathy, choosing not to feel pain, telekinesis, speed of learning and even mental time travel.

The film is called Lucy after the name of the skeleton of an Australopithecus that lived 3.2 million years ago and was discovered in 1974 in Ethiopia.

The truth

Many people know we use only 10% of our brain. And by ‘know‘ I mean they are crazy, horribly mistaken.

Here is the deal. I’m sorry but that is false. There is not a sleeping part of the brain with psychic abilities or the potential to instantly memorize anything you see.

telekinesisSo what is the reason that this idea is so persistent?

I think we like to believe we have a huge  hidden potential and it’s very motivating for us to feel that we could do more if we could only figure out how to use that extra percentage.

So if you are feeling the lack of some ability like telekinesis you could think, well, maybe a part of my brain deep inside can do that.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. So let’s talk about where that idea has come from.

Where has the idea come from?

The myth probably started through a misquote of a study in the 1890s by William James and Boris Sidis. They were trying to raise a child prodigy in a way that would actually accelerate his intelligence. After rising the kid to an IQ of 250, James said “people only meet a fraction of their full mental potential”

He just meant we don’t challenge ourselves enough mentally.

It’s also possible that the myth came from early neurological research in the 19th or 20th century as scientist started digging in all those brains and it seemed that there were bits that didn’t change anything if they were damaged or removed. But now we know that some areas just have very subtle and specialized functions. Stuff you weren’t able to tell is missing right away. I mean, there is a part of our brain that is just dedicated to making electrical sockets look like faces.

More evidence

flyingBrain scans, MRIs and PET scans have shown that no matter what one is doing, the brain is always active. Some areas are more active at any one time than others, but there is no part of the brain that is absolutely not functioning.

Evolution: The brain uses 20% of our body’s total energy. We wouldn’t be using so much energy in something that is only 10% efficient. Evolution would have mended that long ago!

Neural disease: If you don’t use something it tends to decay. Cells that are not used have a tendency to degenerate. If 90% of the brain were inactive, autopsies of adult brains would reveal large-scale degeneration, and they don’t.

In fact, when suffering Alzheimer’s disease, the brain loses weight and volume


We are not a pill or a technique away from developing super powers. But William James was right – most of us don’t meet our mental potential. So now that you know that you have access to all 100 billion neurons go out and do it!

Posted by Shedka.

 Listen to the whole show here:     Part 1     Part 2



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