The premise behind the blockbuster Summer movie Lucy is simple and a little out there.
What if we could use more than 10% of our brains?
Would you become telepathic, suddenly be able to read other languages and choose not to feel pain? Lucy can.
The problem is that the brain doesn’t really work like that. Think of your brain as a finely-tuned piano. On the piano, if you press down one key, then another, then another, you start making a melody. Your neurons are what allows for this to happen – pressing all keys at once would not sound very nice, right?
Your brain is like a really complex instrument.
There are lots of things that your brain is doing at one time. While you are reading this article, your brain is also in charge of your breathing, of the way that your hair feels on your skin, of telling you how hungry, upset, calm or curious you are. Your brain is doing lots of things at the same time at all times, even when you are sleeping.
Most of your brain is active all the time. You probably don’t use the same part of the brain to work out as you do to loaf around on the couch and watch Netflix, but generally you have used all of your brain after a twenty four hour period. More complex task take more effort from the brain and therefore use more parts at the same time – writing a story, painting a painting or learning to drive, for instance, are all very complex tasks that make your brain work hard.
How do we know that we use more than 10% of the brain?
You don’t have to take my word for it. Unfortunately, some people who have suffered head trauma or brain injuries stop being able to do certain things. If you only used 10% of your brain and you hit the front of your head, then how could it possibly affect you when you still have the 90% bit of unused brain leftover?
Another one is how your brain works. The myth of the 10% indicates that everything is one single mass and everything takes place in one part of the brain or the other. This is a misunderstanding of how the brain works. There are distinct regions in the brain that are there to process certain types of information, and communicate between each other. We don’t really understand the brain that much yet, but from what we do know, it’s enormously complex – like a super highway in your head.
The brain is also incredibly taxing. Did you know that your brain takes way more oxygen and nutrients to function than any of your other organs? It’s 2% of your body weight and it still needs that much. By this point, if this was unnecessary, we would probably all have smaller brains.
Lastly, there have been brain scans that show that your brain is always active. There is never a part of the brain that isn’t functioning at all.
You already use 100% of your brain. Unfortunately, you won’t ever be able to read a different language if you don’t learn how to first, and you probably won’t harness the power of telekinesis.