There is a myth—an unproved collective belief— that tells us we use only 10% of our brain capacity. Some people still believe that is a true fact, but of course, it isn’t. What is true is that some people do not use 100% of their brain, but others do.
Now I’m in trouble! How do I explain this statement?
Let me first explain the myth that tells us we use only 10% of our brain capacity:
The myth comes from the way in which science at that time interpreted how the brain works. Unfortunately, that interpretation was incorrect. Many decades later, the new understanding from the same science revised the old conclusion with the following statement: Now we know more, and the interpretation and conclusion of the same facts are different. Back then, we drew the wrong conclusion.
First, scientists had learned (correctly) that 10% of the brain is made up of neurons (brain cells), and that 90% of the brain is made up of glial cells, which provide support and protection for neurons. The definition is clear: Glial cells are not neurons.
Out of this (correct) fact, science drew the conclusion that the neuron is the basic functional unit of the nervous system and that glial cells are supportive cells. In other words, the scientists concluded that people used only 10% of their brain.
Unfortunately, it was the wrong conclusion.
When neuroscience made significant progress in understanding how the brain works, the new knowledge was: Glial cells are not only a supportive and protective system for neurons; they are a functional part of the nervous system. Glial cells activate or inhibit neurons, and control them; therefore, they’re an important part of the nervous system.
Now the picture is clear: 10% of neurons and 90% of glial cells work together in the nervous system. This means that the human brain uses 100% of its capacity.
But now I need to prove that some people do not use 100% of their brain.
Let me tell you this: If you do the same thing every day—go through the same routine (out of habit)—and don’t learn anything new, and if you are not involved in a new cognitive activity, you’re not using 100% of your brain. Cognitive activity is crucial because it’s an expression of intellectual capacity. Reminder: Passively watching TV is not an intellectual activity. If your brain has no intellectual challenge—if it’s not learning new knowledge—you’re not using 100% of your brain capacity. (Sorry!)
To use 100% of your brain, you need to use both brain hemispheres in harmony, allowing your left (logical brain) to work together with your right (emotional brain).
Next, to use 100% of your brain, you need to make new synapses by learning something new. Synapses are structures that permit a neuron to pass signals to another cell (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuron).
Stop living in habits and patterns. When you live your life in a habitual or commonly used way, your brain is not exercising—it’s shrinking. But whenever you engage in some new intellectual challenge, you can assured that you’re using your brain to its fullest capacity.