Main Topic: In this episode, we tackle the idea that you are only using 10% of your brain. Brain imaging techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) have shown us that we are in fact using more than 10% of our brain. The principle of natural selection and evolution also would suggest that unused brain areas would be weeded out over time; the reality is that the human brain has the largest surface area of any animal on the planet. Finally, there are no “dead zones” in the brain. Even the smallest amount of brain damage can have severe consequences (as seen in the example of Phineas Gage). The myth may have roots in the fact that we may not be using our brain to its full potential, that we are using 10% at any given moment, or that 10% of our brains are neurons while the other 90% are glial (support) cells. E-Mail: Josh sent us an e-mail asking if you can lose brain cells by holding your breath or sniffing paint. While breathing toxins isn’t recommended, there is some interesting information about how the mammalian diving reflex can help you survive longer underwater.
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- “Whence Cometh the Myth that We Only Use 10% of our Brains?” (Barry Beyerstein, 1999), pp3-24 in Mind Myths: Exploring Popular Assumptions About the Mind and Brain. (Sergio Della Sala, 1999). http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0471983039?ie=UTF8&tag=betyouear-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0471983039″>[Link to Amazon.com] http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/0471983039?ie=UTF8&tag=betyouear0b-20&linkCode=as2&camp=15121&creative=330641&creativeASIN=0471983039″>[Link to Amazon.ca]
- Scientific American: Do People Only Use 10 Percent of Their Brains?: What’s the matter with only exploiting a portion of our gray matter? (Robynne Boyd, 2008) [Link]
- snopes.com: The Ten-Percent of our Brains [Link]
- TV Tropes – List of Reference of the 10% Brain Myth in Entertainment Media[Link]
- Mythbusters Season 9 – “Table Cloth Chaos” [iTunes]