It is truly incredible the way our brain functions. When I talk about human brain, the one common thing associated with it is the “10% myth”. This often makes one to wonder how much of our brain do we use actually? Is it really 10%? Or is it more? Or less? To clear this question, today I have researched few things and thought of sharing and clearing it with you. Read on.

Before I tell you what percent of our brain do we use, here are few fascinating things to read.

Some Interesting Things About Your Brain

How Much Of Our Brain Do We Use

A human brain weighs around 1.5 kg. It comprises of nerve cells known as “neurons”. And the way these cells or neurons communicate and connect is the base of brain functions. Whenever we learn, we make fresh connections. It is quite surprising to know that a human brain has 10-billion cells, each making new connections. And every brain cell has the ability to build hundreds of connections.

Our brain is vigilant always but we aren’t aware of it. Even when a person sleeps, his or her brain’s most part is still active. This is because it is only the brain, which regulates everything – right from heart rate to emotions, senses and dreams. Therefore, your brain is always busy even when you rest. Isn’t that amazing?

How Much Of Our Brain Do We Use?

Now, coming back to your question, how much percent of our brain do we use? I will tell you in detail here. The “10% brain myth” is something people often tend to hear. So, how far is this true? You often come across people saying – You certainly are not using 100% of your brain. If you were, you would be the world’s most intelligent human. Some, famous people like Albert Einstein had always been known for his intellect. Did he use only 10% of his brain? So, how true is this? This 10% brain myth is popularly known but where did it actually come from? Often sources point to a person named William James, American Psychologist of 1900. He claimed that an average human gets a very small fraction of his / her brain. And somehow, this was converted to using ten percent brain and we still follow it. It is not exactly true that we use only 10% of our brain. Here are few supporting answers that will make you clear.

According to experts, human brain can be potentially trained with fresh ideas, concepts and skills but the thing about 10% brain capacity is purely fictional. In fact, experts claim that we use almost all our brain parts. Nothing is unused. A human’s neuron-dense brain has evolved in a way to utilize only least energy while bearing the most info possible. Now, this doesn’t mean that 90% of your brain is idle. Let me repeat here that your brain is always busy – even when you sleep.

The 10% Myth About Your Brain – How Far Is It True?

It is a fact that most of our organs have better capacity than one actually needs on a daily basis. Say for example, you may have your entire kidney or lung removed & still live with one. You could do without thymus, spleen and appendix too because there is skin, bone marrow and intestines to spare. However, this is not true when it comes to ‘brain’. Brain scans like PET (Positron Emission Tomography) or MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) show that a human constantly utilizes all of his or her brain. Certain parts might be active a lot when a person is engaged in an activity while other parts can be less active but not necessarily mean they are not involved. Scientists claim that no brain part is completely unnecessary or unused.

I am unsure from where the “10% brain myth” all started (often experts claim William James, an American Psychologist for this) but the fact is that the myth is not true. Earlier, scientists and doctors did not have a reliable way of measuring brain functions. Hence, there were lot of  confusions on how much of our brain do we use. Even today, PET & MRI scans don’t give us an exact estimate. Hence, what percentage of our brain do we use, is still a mystery. It is not that easy to count our brain cells & measure its activity. It is different every time we are involved in an activity. Whenever a part of your brain is active, not all the cells are used. But this doesn’t mean, the cells aren’t used at all.

So, it doesn’t matter what you do but your brain is always active. Few parts are more active at certain times but unless you have a brain injury, there isn’t any part, which is not functioning. To clear you this, I will explain you with an example. If you are sitting & having a delicious sandwich, you are not using your feet actively. Instead, you are focusing more on your sandwich to bring it to the mouth, chew & swallow. Now, you cannot say that the feet are not working. There is still an activity running inside like – blood flow even when they are idle.

The Truth

It may be right that brain has underutilized elements but it’s not likely that 90% is useless. Suppose, we had so much brain unused, we should have been able to survive brain diseases or injuries pretty well. Nevertheless, we can’t. Hence, we utilize all of our brain and not just 10%.

How Do Neuroscientists Study A Human Brain?

In order to learn how much of the brain do we use, neuroscientists examine a lot about it. They often use a method called “FMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging)” for this. In this, experts place a human in a scanner to observe which brain parts are activated while doing or thinking something.

FMRI uses 3 things

  • Magnetic field
  • Radio frequency pulse
  • Computer

With the help of above 3, an output is produced, which consists of details how brain functions. It is surprising to learn what this study showed. According to this research, even simple actions like saying few words, clenching & unclenching your hands required more than 10% of your brain. When you think or imagine something, you feel as if you aren’t doing anything but inside there is a whole lot of process running actively.

Perhaps, the 10% denote brain cells. Now, again this does not work. Whenever a nerve cell is going to spare, it either dies or degenerates or colonizes by nearby areas. We do not allow our brain cells idle. They are too valuable. Keeping your brain tissues alive & active requires about 20% oxygen you breathe, says Sergio Della Sala, a neuroscientist.

Myth Busted: Bigger Is Your Brain, More Intelligent You Are

We often come across people saying that a person is smarter or genius when his or her brain is bigger in size. However, this is not true. There were rumors that Einstein had a remarkable brain. However, his brain was normal, like any ordinary human. As language & complex reasoning talents evolved in man over time, the size of brain increased dramatically. And this is a very strong case against the 10% myth. This defies logic & well-accepted scientific ideologies for any organ to enlarge in size for years if 90% of it was being unused.


Neurologist Dr. Richard Cytowic demystifies saying that our brain parts, where 90% is said to be “unused or silent” is in fact humming with different activities. What exactly these “silent” brain regions do? Well, according to Richard, they are intimately engaged in planning, making decisions, getting accustomed to evolving circumstances & reasons abstractly. So, the next time someone brings up the 10% nonsense or asks how much of our brain do we use, you will be able to give them a straight forward answer. On the other hand, a human brain is still a mystery. Neuroscientists are still taking efforts to comprehend how a human brain functions.