How can you use 100% of your brain?

As a child I was told by a few people, several times, that we only use a fraction of our brain. They told me use around 10%, and that if we managed to use at least 30-40% our minds would be so powerful that we could even lift objects with our brain power. I was also told that Einstein used about 20% of his brain, and by studying and stressing our minds to think more we could achieve a greater usage, and therefore, greater capacity to do things with it.

Let’s take a step back and talk about intelligence

According to Wikipedia, Francis Galton was the first scientist to propose a theory of general intelligence; that intelligence is a true, biologically-based mental faculty that can be studied by measuring a person’s reaction times to cognitive tasks.

Alfred Binet, in contrast, believed intelligence was a median average of dissimilar abilities, not a unitary entity with specific, identifiable properties.

Over the course of my life I have heard different things about intelligence. I’ve heard a couple of times that we are all equally intelligent beings. Then again, we all have heard typical phrases such as “He is more intelligent than you”, or “she must be really intelligent”. These usually refer to the fact that an individual may have a higher or lower level of IQ, which after all is just a number that attempts to describe our level of intelligence.

Intelligence is not the same as brain usage

What really got me interested in researching brain usage and intelligence was my memories of people telling me that we use different percentages of our brain. Then in school I was taught that the several sections of our brain process different functions. How then can we use only a fraction of it if studies have been performed that claim that we do use different parts at the same time?

PET scans (positron emission tomography) and fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) clearly show that the vast majority of the brain does not lie fallow. The nature of theories such as the one which describes that psychic powers may be obtained if we master the percentage of unused brain have been proven wrong, but it is the mass media, literature, urban legends, and shows performed by different personalities which has ensured the endurance of the claims. More information about that may be obtained at this page at snopes.com, which details an investigation performed by Benjamin Radford.

Furthermore, this video describes in detail how we do NOT only use 10% of our brain:

I have a theory

It is not that we do not fully use our brain. I believe, instead, that it is the capacity of interpreting messages that varies. We may be able to interpret more signals as we train our brain to do so, therefore increasing our ability to integrate more thoughts together, invoking reason, and processing the results in a faster and more accurate manner.

Clearly we use different sections of our brain to process different signals. Your innate reaction to things such as getting burned is processed in one area. Memories are stored in another area. Likewise, vision is also computed by another section of your brain. However, some people manage to understand things faster than others, some people have much faster reactions (like certain CS:GO players I know), just as some people are more creative or intuitive than others. We have math geeks, computer wizards, programming geniuses, scientists, artists, etc. All of them have a certain facility and greater processing power for their respective areas.

I believe the clue to this lies in the speed, the accuracy, and the depth of the processing of signals from each area of the brain.

The frontal lobe is in charge of recognizing future consequences resulting from current actions, choosing between good and bad actions, overriding and suppressing unacceptable social responses, and determining similarities and differences between things or events.

Now, for example, when you read a book and don’t understand a word, many times you skip it. Then you might hear it a few times in movies. There might come a time when you ask someone what it means, or you hear or read the definition for it somewhere. Then you start noticing it much more commonly, in places where it might have always been but you were unaware of its presence.

Likewise, my theory is that the brain’s sections can process so many things that you are not able to understand, or to grasp entirely, but as you become aware of how to understand that information, you begin to use it more thoroughly and exploit that new ability. In other words, as your knowledge increases, and as you continuously practice and learn new things, the easier you will retain new knowledge, your grasp on concepts will be greater, and you will be able to progress even faster.

An example of this would be painting. You may have seen many pieces of art, and your brain processes how the shadows and mixtures of colours look like. Then you see a painter actually perform the job. You might then try painting yourself and you are not successful at it the first few times. Your friend, Jack, has not been to many art galleries, nor has he seen a painter do his job, but the first time he grabs a brush he seems naturally talented.

Practice makes perfect

With enough research and practice you could acquire the same skills (as long as you don’t have a physical impediment), and may some day even surpass his level. The key to this, obviously, is perseverance and being open to try new things. If you always criticise or blame yourself, or you are scared of trying something new, then you’ll never advance.

I do not fully understand how capable we will ever be in certain areas. It may be that some people are just “blocked” in certain area, psychologically, and therefore can’t achieve the understanding of those signals. However, I believe it more to be a matter of really wanting to do so. Someone may want to play guitar, but when he grabs it he thinks he is rubbish, then he claims that he has no ability to play and blocks his creative path. This, however, is a matter of psychologically blocking his ability to understand the patterns that are naturally forming in his brain.

In my case, I am rather good with programming, I’ve been doing it for 17+ years, but I’ve never been sufficiently good at math. I constantly used to say “I’m no good at math” when I was younger, and this led me to believe I was simply incapable of learning the subject. But my math teacher used to tell me “How can you not be good at math but excel at computer science? It is the same area of the brain”. I was just afraid I guess, and it’s not that I wasn’t smart enough, I just didn’t think I was.

So back to our main topic: How can you use 100% of your brain? You already use it! Don’t worry about the percentage, worry about constant practice, trying out new things, researching topics that interest you (or finding ones that you don’t even know about which may interest you even more), and finally, never block yourself by saying “I’m just not good at this or that”.

* Edited 2014-10-01 to correct a few mistakes, and add a video, additionally, I re-opened the comments in the hope that the spammers have finally left.

16 Comments

  1. Chris

    Have you read about Howard Gardner’s 8 types of intelligence? It is a much more expanded way of seeing how people can be intelligent than the pure IQ score idea.

    It is also interesting when thinking about how the brain works, to look at what is happening when it does not work “normally”. Look at the brain in someone who is mentally disabled (with very low IQ), or someone with autism, or a learning disability.

  2. lemiffe (Post author)

    Actually, I think I recall having heard something about Gardner’s 8 types of intelligence back in psychology class, but that was time ago so I will have to read up on it. It seems rather interesting, thanks for the info.

    I will be studying quite a lot about intelligence as it relates to one of my main interests so I’ll certainly keep in mind the second point you mention. Thanks!

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  4. expekt

    I see a lot of interesting articles here. I have bookmarked for future referrence.

  5. Colette Quezergue

    Extremely entertainment imagined about the matter at hand. Cheers for the input.

  6. Mikaila

    this didn’t help me at all.

  7. sara soda

    “We” have much more control of our brain activity than we imagine. It’s a matter
    of concentrated effort, or even a meditative state that can allow for expanding one’s brain capacity. As an individual, with focused attempt, will achieve incredible results, one only need try.

  8. nick

    thnks for info but i trieing tofind out how to use the full brain

  9. Mike

    Floride in the water supply prevents people from using their brains fully. People are easier to control when their brains are foggy… This originated in Germany when they poisoned the water supply with fluoride to control the people easier, especially the Jews.

  10. Me

    I struggle with retaining most information- cant remember the news or any current events .. however on other levels i am a fairly intellient person.. but have a converstaion with me about whats going on in the world and i m clueless.. how do i change this?? how can i train my mind to concentrate on things that may not be as much of an interest to me.

  11. Rajesh

    I am 50 plus and I am trying to learn accounts. I am not at all understanding the basics which is very important. Can you guide me if anything at all is psychologically blocking my mind.

  12. Ketan

    Thanks a lot it is good piece of info.

    I would lovE to know that how we increase our % of brain

    1. jim

      U clearly don’t know anything about the brain.

  13. thanos

    First of all, very good article. I like your theory. I’m currently doing a research about this. I will stay positive that something good will come up and that i might conclude somewhere. Good luck to you too!

  14. Freshman

    I lov dix articul abt brain work.

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