Humans Use Only 10 Percent of their Brains Myth

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Humans Use Only 10 Percent of their Brains Myth


Humans use only 10 percent of their brains.

Other Versions

1. People only use 10 percent of their brains on a daily basis.

2. Humans only use 10% of their available brain capacity.


There is this popular claim that humans use only 10 percent of their available brain capacity on a daily basis, which has been around since decades. The claim is so popular that many people in fact believe it is a fact, and that humans need to develop or train their brains for making it work effectively. The truth of the matter — it is simply a myth!


As mentioned above, the belief that humans use only 10% of their brain has been around since many decades. It’s also associated with Albert Einstein, who supposedly used it to explain his high intellect. Although famous, the origin of this claim is unclear. In the early 1900s, William James, the famous American philosopher and psychologist said that humans have unused mental potential. Then writer Lowell Thomas in his foreword to the 1936 self-help bible ‘How To Win Friends And Influence People‘ wrote “Professor William James of Harvard used to say that the average person develops only 10% of his latent mental ability.” Looks like Lowell Thomas has added a vague figure of 10 percent to the thought of William James. The belief became popular ever since, and in fact, a survey in 2013 by The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research found that almost two-thirds (65 percent) of Americans believe the myth is true. The claim also circulates in other versions saying humans only make use of 3%, 10%, 27% or some other small percentage of their brains.


Human brain is an organ made of living neurons and the cells that support them, which are always performing some functions. Brain scans have shown that no matter what one is doing, brains are always active.

In October 27, 2010 episode of MythBusters, Tory Belleci took a series of mind-bending tests to track how much of his brain is exercised. With memory drills, math calculations, word associations and image comparisons, they exercised and tested four different neurological regions of brain. Over the course of the MEG (magnetoencephalogram) exam, it was seen that around 35 percent of Tory’s brain jumped into action, busting the popular 10% brain myth.

Interesting enough, there’s another myth that mental skills decline with age, which almost three-quarters (74 percent) of Americans believe to be true. On the contrary, as stated in the aforementioned survey report, psychologists say that certain mental skills actually improve with age and experience, like one’s vocabulary and social wisdom.

Coming back to the 10 percent brain myth, it might have been propagated simply to suggest that some people use only a small percentage of their brains at any given time. Certain factors of intelligence can increase with mental training though, so use your brains wisely!

Hoax or Fact:



Hollywood Myth, Busted: Humans Use Far More Than 10% of Their Brains
Ten percent of brain myth

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Prashanth Damarla