We Use Only 5% of Our Brain?

For many years, I started out my parent and student classes by saying, “According to one study, we use only about 5% of our brain.”

“In fact, the study nailed it right down to us using only 4.67% of our brain.”

After that “dismal” news, I would announce to the parents and students, “However, since everybody in this room is smarter than that, we’ll be using 10% of our brains and doing very well in this class.”

Smiles all around. 😮

The neuroscientist that called my remarks a “silly adage” is right in one sense. Multiple parts of our brain are involved in our daily activities, much more than 10%.

My teaching is that most of this daily brain activity is not in our immediate awareness, usually.

For example, we may think about what we are going to say, and we may even rehearse it very carefully in our mind before we say it. However, when we actually start talking the patterns of our speech are “looked after” for us by our “automatic brain.” We do not usually have to think about how to string an actual sentence together. We do not have to pause before every word to try and figure out what comes next, do we?

The same thing is true for walking, for example. We may think about where we want to go. We may even rehearse it very carefully in our mind before we start out. When we actually start walking, however,  most of the activity is “looked after” for us by our “automatic brain.” We don’t have to say to our foot, “lift up” or to our knees, “bend please.”

Do we?

So the brilliant neuroscient and I are both right. His point is that we are constantly using a large percentage of our brain, even when we are asleep, even especially when we are asleep, eh?

I want to say more about the “fun” the brain is having when we are asleep in one of my future postings here.

My point to my parent and student classes, about us using only 5% – 10% of our brains is this: “Only a very small portion of what our brain is doing is in our immediate awareness. Our hair grows, our eyes shine, our hearts beat, and our food is digested without us having to think about it.”

Usually. 😮

In fact, one of the great ongoing challenges in psychology and brain science is the question of what our brains are doing that we don’t know about. At least at the moment.

“What is my brain up to that I don’t know about?” you may well ask.

I will address this in one of my future postings here.

Doc Meek, Inspiring Learning Strategies Specialist

Sherwood Park, Alberta, CANADA; and South Jordan, Utah, USA

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September 2020
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Parent and Teacher Choice