How can we really use it

Are we really only using 10 percent of our brain?

Rumor spread by Scientology

We probably use one hundred percent - if not always at the same time. If you have the rumor in your head that Einstein said we only use ten percent of our brain potential, forget it! There is no evidence that Einstein said that, nor is it true in terms of content.

Scientology founder Ron Hubbard started the rumor. It is still spread by Scientology today, combined with the more or less explicitly stated message: Scientology helps you to use the remaining 90 percent of your brain. It's just a hollow promise.

Constantly new connections between nerve cells through learning

It is easy to see that there is nothing to do with the "10 percent":

  1. There are many patients in whom parts of the brain are damaged - for example by an accident or a stroke. If we really only used 10 percent, most of the brain damage would be without consequences. In reality, however, almost every brain damage leads to some restrictions. Conversely, this means that all the affected brain regions must have been good for something beforehand.
  2. We can think of the brain as a large tangle of billions of nerve cells. These billions of nerve cells are in turn networked with one another by billions of connections. Brain research has shown that the brain is very plastic: as soon as we learn something, new connections are formed between nerve cells. And as soon as we stop using these connections, they start to wither pretty quickly. This also suggests that we really use all areas of the brain. Because everything that we do not use will be broken down over time and would then no longer be available.

Always use only the parts of the brain that are currently needed

But of course not all parts of the brain are always busy. Not all nerve cells fire over and over again. That wouldn't be a good thing either. We would then fidget all the time, would no longer be able to concentrate on anything and would no longer have any control over ourselves. In this respect, it's okay that we only use the parts of the brain that we need for a specific task at any given time.

Thus the basic assumption on which the “ten percent rumor” is based is already wrong. Because it is not the case that the more brain parts are active, the greater the mental potential. Under certain circumstances, the intellectual potential also grows with the ability to shut down certain activities that tend to distract from a task.

Percentages are not useful

And how much “brain” is normally active now? It is relatively difficult to give a percentage. This is what distinguishes the brain from a hard drive: With a computer, I can easily tell that I only used a quarter of my memory and three quarters are unused.

But the brain is not a hard drive, and it should not be imagined that individual, self-contained areas of the brain are active and all others are at rest. Rather, the brain often works in such a way that many distant areas network with one another. Memories, for example, memory contents are not stored in a specific location, but rather arise from activity patterns in which very distant parts of the brain are active. Therefore, percentages are difficult and not very useful.

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