View previous topic | View next topic

Brain Power

Page 1 of 2
Goto page 1, 2  Next

Mort
23471.  Wed Aug 31, 2005 5:23 am Reply with quote

I usually consider myself decently skeptical, but this little nugget is one that I've heard repeated so many that I eventually just assumed it to be true and was genuinely quite shocked when I discovered it false.

"Humans only use 10% (or 20%, the number varies) of their brain."

It's often quoted by psychics and other 'paranormal' people as an explanation for why they can do superhuman things, but it is quite simply just a myth.

When doing any one activity, you might not use more than a small portion of your brain, but different parts of the brain do different things, so across a day you'll have used pretty much all of your brain. This makes so much sense that it's almost absurd that I never considered it, but the whole "10% of brain" phrase is something that I've heard so many times from so many places.. and yet it is quite simply false, much like that "going swimming soon after eating will give you cramp" myth.

Is this widespread, or am I just an idiot?

 
Flash
23481.  Wed Aug 31, 2005 9:17 am Reply with quote

You're right, it is very pervasive, though the rebuttal is quite widespread, too. The topic was covered in the second series of QI.

 
Gray
23508.  Wed Aug 31, 2005 12:20 pm Reply with quote

Powering a brain is incredibly energy-costly, so evolution would have relieved us of that extra 90% liability long ago if we didn't need it. Appendices cost next to nothing to run (although they occasionally kill us by bursting), so they're slow to disappear.

 
Caradoc
23509.  Wed Aug 31, 2005 12:35 pm Reply with quote

Flash wrote:
You're right, it is very pervasive, though the rebuttal is quite widespread, too. The topic was covered in the second series of QI.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/science/allinthemind.shtml

also thread on the intelligence of birds

 
WhatIceCream?!
72903.  Tue Jun 06, 2006 1:36 am Reply with quote

But how would one tap into their full or more than their 10-20% range of brain power? Would one have to go through those moment where you go faster then you should and you almost act unconsciously and do things at an amazing rate or possibly deep meditation to try and find the 'control switch? And what would one gain from tapping into this power, possibly advanced thinking process, speed as well, more ideas would appear, increased memory? Thats probably too many questions to be answered but i have soooo many more, hope it doesn't diminshed anybody.

 
Flash
72909.  Tue Jun 06, 2006 4:12 am Reply with quote

Welcome to these parts. Not sure I understand your question, but I think the point being made in this thread is that there is no "unused 80%" of the brain to tap into - that's a myth. On the other hand, there is something called the Zone - the state of mind & body achieved by some elite athletes when they're performing at their peak. To see QI's take on that subject watch out for the new series, coming to a TV screen near you this autumn.

 
Quaintly Ignorant
72998.  Tue Jun 06, 2006 10:43 am Reply with quote

People using large percentages of their brains simultaneously will often exhibit convulsive behaviour and most likely be completely inacapacitated, think epilepsy. Still want to use more of that brain?

 
WhatIceCream?!
73002.  Tue Jun 06, 2006 10:52 am Reply with quote

Thanks Flash, glad to be here.

So the 80% that i'm looking for is already harnessed by the unconscious? Is it used to maintain one's health?

 
JumpingJack
73086.  Tue Jun 06, 2006 5:26 pm Reply with quote

I have to say that, whatever the current scientific orthodoxy, I'm certain that most people use only a small percentage of their brain in any meaningful sense.

(There is elvish disagreement on this, of course).

Our brains are massively bigger than those of other apes, but there is very little evidence that this immense power is used to anything like its potential by almost all human beings.

 
dr.bob
73122.  Wed Jun 07, 2006 4:26 am Reply with quote

I find it hard to believe that some of the people I see on the bus in the morning are even using 10% of their brains.

 
Flash
73142.  Wed Jun 07, 2006 5:39 am Reply with quote

Jumping Jack is making a different point, I think; mine is that scans of brain activity have been done, which show that different parts of the organ are used for different purposes - and virtually all of the brain can be specifically linked to one purpose or another. IE, there is no substantial portion of the brain which is simply unused or whose function has not been ascertained. Whether or not the bit that's being used for the analysis of abstract concepts (for example) is being used to its full capacity by a particular individual is another issue altogether, of course.

 
QI Individual
73455.  Thu Jun 08, 2006 4:08 pm Reply with quote

JumpingJack wrote:
I have to say that, whatever the current scientific orthodoxy, I'm certain that most people use only a small percentage of their brain in any meaningful sense.

(There is elvish disagreement on this, of course).

Our brains are massively bigger than those of other apes, but there is very little evidence that this immense power is used to anything like its potential by almost all human beings.

Hi Jack. Long time no post.

Our brains have evolved to its current size and level of ability because it gave us an increased chance of survival. If you're born in the slums of Calcutta (yes, I know...) you still need all that brainpower to find ways to survive in such a 'hostile' environment. In our wealthy 'developed' society many of us are able to use this 'excess' brainpower towards more 'elevated' pursuits. But thatís a rather recent development and most people on this earth still primarily need their extra cunning just to survive.

Don't underestimate the brainpower it takes to be conscious and aware at our human level. To process the visual information we receive and to use our language to communicate. To analyse the world around us and make decisions every few seconds on what actions to undertake. Evolution/nature is very frugal. It wouldn't waste the 20% of our total energy intake on our brains if it weren't absolutely necessary to give us that evolutionary 'edge'.

Sure... I recognise the irritation and despair about the inane things people do and say but even those people make considerable use of their brainpower... just not towards the ends you and I would like them to. But that's another matter.


The 'zone' thing in athletes Flash referred to is QI.
It might be associated with the fact that when our brains send more excitatory impulses to our muscles to increase their power, our nervous system is wired in such a way that through a feedback mechanism the amount of inhibitory synapse activity increases too. This creates a sort of limiter function on the use of our muscles to protect us against injuring ourselves (muscle tears, torn off/ruptured tendons).

The effect of training is not just increasing the amount of muscle tissue and better coordination but also in 'learning' the nervous system to 'suppress' that feedback mechanism and allowing the use of muscles to a higher percentage of their maximum power than usual. This leads inevitably to more of the injuries the protective mechanism is meant to prevent. But if for whatever reason highly trained athletes reach a state in which that feedback mechanism is very much suppressed and it doesn't lead to injury they will be capable of peak performances.

 
QI Individual
73488.  Thu Jun 08, 2006 7:07 pm Reply with quote

Oh I almost forgot...

That suppression of the inhibitory feedback is also the source, as I was taught, for the extraordinary feats of strength people can display in extreme situations. The example we were told was of a mother, seeing from her window how her child is being run over by a car, running outside and lifting the car up to save her child. The mental/neurophysiological state caused by her witnessing that event allowed her to suppress that inhibitory feedback mechanism and let her use her muscles at peak capacity for a short moment.

 
Marvin7148
78240.  Wed Jul 05, 2006 5:03 am Reply with quote

Hey,

Memory techniques are very powerful methods to learn and remember information. Let’s look at how they work:


They give meaning to what you are trying to learn. Because internal memory techniques give meaning to something you want to remember, they are successful. This works in two ways: In many cases, we can find meaning inherent to the information we are trying to learn. Or we can inflict meaning on material that doesn’t essentially have that meaning to make it more memorable. And something that is meaningful is more memorable.


They force you to focus attention on what you are trying to learn. You are forced to concentrate, when you apply an internal memory technique. In fact, just using a method makes it impossible not to pay attention. And we already know that we absorb something we want to remember more effectively when we attend to it.

 
BondiTram
78399.  Thu Jul 06, 2006 12:39 pm Reply with quote

Mort wrote:
.. and yet it is quite simply false, much like that "going swimming soon after eating will give you cramp" myth.

Is this widespread, or am I just an idiot?


I thought the reason you shouldn't do that was because if you swallowed water and mixed it with food particles left in the throat you could choke. I used that arguement to counter my wife's warning the other day not to relieve the heat after lunch by jumping in the pond. I said I would keep my mouth shut and all would be well!!

It was. But I often find that is the case whether I jump in the pond or not.

Referring back to my first sentence, how is it then that I can wash my food down with any liquid that comes to hand? Obviously, petrol, thinners, witches water etc., excepted.

 

Page 1 of 2
Goto page 1, 2  Next

All times are GMT - 5 Hours


Display posts from previous:   

Search Search Forums

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group