Facts and myths about the human brain

The brain is the most complex organ in the human body. You can often hear that people only use 10% of it. Is it true?

What part of the brain a person uses

It is the brain that determines how a person perceives the world around him. On average, it weighs about 1.5 kg and consists of 100 billion neurons - cells that perceive and transmit information.

As shown by a recent survey of American scientists, almost 56% of their compatriots believe that Homo Sapiens uses only 10 % of your brain. And it must be admitted that such a belief is very common not only in the United States. In fact, this is nothing more than a myth, and neurologists debunked it long ago. Most of the body is active almost all the time. Scientists conducted research on this topic back in 2009.

Using the capabilities of functional MRI, scientists measured the activity of the organ during the performance of various tasks, and determined that a large part of the brain remains active almost constantly, even when a person performs very simple actions. Moreover, the body is awake even when a person is resting or sleeping. But the exact percentage of organ cells that are activated varies from person to person. This indicator also changes depending on what the person is doing or thinking about.

How did the myth of 10% come about

The myth that the human brain only works at 10% is so widespread and has existed for so long that today it is even difficult to accurately define it original source.

Allegedly, it all began in 1907, when the psychologist and writer William James published an article in the journal Science, in which he argued that a person uses only a part of his mental resources. True, what percentage of his brain is used by Homo Sapiens, the scientist did not mention in the article. And where exactly that notorious 10% was mentioned was in Dale Carnegie's book How to Win Friends and Influence People, which was published in 1936. This myth was mentioned as something that a professor of the college where he studied Carnegie.

By the way, according to scientists, neurons occupy about 10% of all brain cells. It is quite possible that it was this information that contributed to the emergence of the myth, which continues to be replicated, further strengthening the person's faith in it.

Is it possible to improve brain function

As with any other organ, the state of the brain directly depends on the diet and activity of a person. By following a healthy lifestyle, it is really possible to improve his work.

Influence of diet

Improper nutrition can worsen a person's health and cause the development of heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes. And these diseases, in turn, increase the risk of developing dementia.

In order to improve brain health, you should include in your diet the following foods:

Physical activity

The role of physical activity in maintaining brain health cannot be underestimated. It is enough to spend at least 30 minutes daily on active walking to reduce the risk of deterioration in brain function. Swimming, jogging, cycling are also useful.

Mental training

The brain works like muscles: the more you use it, the better it performs its functions. Therefore, special mental training should not be ignored to maintain the health of the organ. By the way, according to one of the scientific experiments, people who are passionate about logical tasks are 29% less at risk of developing dementia.

Other Common Myths

In addition to the 10% myth, there are many other misconceptions about the human brain. But most of them already have a scientific refutation.

Left and right hemisphere

Probably, many people have heard that the right hemisphere dominates in creative people, while the left hemisphere dominates in people with a logical type of thinking. However, recent studies show that all this is nothing more than a myth. If a person is healthy, both hemispheres are equally developed. The truth is that the hemispheres are actually responsible for performing different types of tasks. So, the left controls speech, and the right controls emotions.

Effects of alcohol

Long-term alcohol abuse can cause a number of health problems, including brain damage. However, it cannot be said that each serving of alcohol kills part of the brain cells - this is a delusion. The damage process is quite complex. For example, it has been proven that if a woman abuses alcohol during pregnancy, then there is a high risk that the baby will be born with fetal alcohol syndrome. In people with this disease, the brain has a smaller volume than usual and consists of fewer cells. Such children experience learning difficulties in the future and may have other disabilities.

Subliminal messages

There are many misconceptions about the so-called subliminal messages and their effect on the human brain. Scientific studies have confirmed that information received from the outside during sleep in the form of recorded sounds can cause a certain emotional reaction in a person. But using this method to study foreign languages ​​or other disciplines, as some believe, is inappropriate. Scientific experiments show that this method will help to recall previously known information, but it is impossible to learn new things in this way.


The relief of the human brain consists of furrows and convolutions. There is an opinion that every time a person learns something new, a new gyrus is formed on the surface of the organ. But this is a delusion. The convolutions are formed before birth and continue to form in childhood.

Interesting facts

And now that the most common myths about the human brain have been dispelled, it's time to find out some little-known facts about this organ:

  1. Despite the fact that the brain makes up about 2% of the total body weight, it uses almost 20% of the oxygen and the same amount of calories consumed by the body.
  2. Back in 1945, scientists estimated that the brain is approximately 73% water. His dehydration of only 2% leads to weakness, deterioration of attention, memory and motor skills.
  3. Many believe that cholesterol is the main enemy of health. Of course, you should not get too carried away with food rich in cholesterol, but a person cannot do without this substance at all. Approximately 25% of all cholesterol in the body is concentrated in brain cells, which would simply die without it.

The human brain is an amazing organ. Scientists continue to explore it, discovering new facts and debunking old myths.

  1. Suzana Herculano-Houzel, 2009 Nov 9.– The Human Brain in Numbers: A Linearly Scaled-up Primate Brain.
  2. The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. – New survey finds American care about brain health, but misperceptions abound.
  3. Robynne Boyd, Scientific American, Feb 7, 2008. – Do People Only Use 10 Percent of Their Brains?
  4. William James, Science. – The energies of men.
  5. Jerri D. Edwards, Huiping Xu, Daniel O. Clark, Lin T. Guey, Lesley A. Ross, Frederick W. Unverzagt. – Speed ​​of processing training results in lower risk of dementia.
  6. Jared A. Nielsen, Brandon A. Zielinski, Michael A. Ferguson, Janet E. Lainhart, Jeffrey S. Anderson. – An Evaluation of the Left-Brain vs. Right-Brain Hypothesis with Resting State Functional Connectivity Magnetic Resonance Imaging.
  7. Michael C. Corballis. – Left Brain, Right Brain: Facts and Fantasies.
  8. Laura Jiménez-Ortega, Javier Espuny, Pilar Herreros de Tejada, Carolina Vargas-Rivero, and Manuel Martín-Loeches. – Subliminal Emotional Words Impact Syntactic Processing: Evidence from Performance and Event-Related Brain Potentials.
  9. MedicalNewsToday.com. – What percentage of our brain do we use?