We Use 100 Percent Of Our Brain – You can’t use your brain. 100% – and that’s a good thing. Part 1 of the in-depth study. We will see how much brain you use.
Animal life on earth dates back millions of years. But most species use only three to five percent of their brain capacity. —Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman) in the 2014 film Lucy.
We Use 100 Percent Of Our Brain
It is famous—perhaps infamous—to make the point that we humans only use a small amount of brain tissue. The film’s eponymous protagonist, played by Scarlett Johansson, uses various sci-fi artifacts to boost her brain usage from less than 10% of normal to 100%.
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Of course, the film makes its own case for expanding the event beyond its natural scale. Not to mention that using 100% of your brain has serious drawbacks. As we will see, including more brutality by Johnson’s characters, there are good neuroscientific reasons to insist on our appropriation of natural activities—and possibly even less targeting.
Many serious writers have used this movie as background to dispel the 10% myth. They explain that this is not true. We use most of our brains. did so with reference to the famous neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
In fact, this statement is also invalid. I call it a 100% myth. In fact, the 10% figure is a useful reference point for understanding how the brain works. And generate ideas in your mind about real activity patterns.
Now, over time, it may be true that we use more than 10% of the neurons in our brain; however, the total may be less than 100%. The “probability” here has to do with the fact that it is difficult to measure large numbers of high-resolution active neurons. Much of animal consciousness is difficult to record even in non-human animals such as mice, and accurate recordings in humans are nearly impossible.
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Until recently, only a few hundred or even a few thousand neurons could be accurately measured, yet neuroscientists are making great strides.
In 2020, a large team led by Saskia de Vries of the Allen Institute for Brain Science published a landmark paper that accurately determines large-scale patterns of neural activity in the mouse brain. They measured activity in different regions. The activity of a staggering 60,000 neurons in the cerebral cortex involved in vision is capable of recording detailed activity. During recording, animals were allowed to run freely on the rotating disk. It makes it look like the mouse has a normal, active life.
How this study was conducted needs to be explained in more detail. It helps shed light on misleading arguments by backing up myths 100%.
You might think that in a brain with hundreds of millions or billions of neurons, 60,000 is still not a large sample size. A mouse’s brain accounts for less than 0.1 percent, and mice are naturally much smaller and less complex than us.
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Why not use brain imaging? This gives us an attractive color image of the whole brain that “lights up”, which can be done in humans.
The problem is that brain imaging techniques such as fMRI do not have the required accuracy. They summarize the activity of a large number of neurons over a relatively long period of time.
In a typical fMRI experiment, each data point describing “activity” corresponds to a neural response in about 1 mm of the cube. Each of the thousands of cubes that make up the brain contains hundreds of thousands or even millions of neurons. The actions of these neurons are blurred together in each cube. And this is often further blurred by including cubes containing brain anatomy, such as the amygdala.
The point also ends in a second or so. It seems like a very short time. But neurons are much faster in milliseconds. This means they can be fired hundreds of times in an almost infinite variety of modes. All these details cannot be seen with a brain scanner.
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But photo data is often used as proof of the 100% mythical “Look!” “Almost every little cube moves. And the whole brain ‘Lift it up!'” Again, our argument is wrong.
In fact, the change in the activity of a given voxel – when it is “brighter” – is relatively small: it corresponds to a very small percentage change in the signal. The “bright light” may be caused by many neurons being highly active within a given voxel. This condition causes many neurons to temporarily stop working, resulting in less than 100% activity. You cannot tell if some neurons are never active.
De Vries’ team achieved finer resolution using advanced invasive imaging techniques that require surgical exposure of brain tissue. So we can see what’s going on. They found that nearly a quarter, or 23 percent, of neurons in the visual cortex did not respond to any visual stimuli. Stimulus includes a variety of nature scenes from around the world, as well as nature films, including clips from the 1958 Orson Welles classic.
They also tried various artificial images of alternating spots and stripes. All of this is useless for the 23 percent—those neurons that fire periodically. But not systematically. They don’t care about motion, brightness, contrast or anything else. If 23% of our visual neurons don’t have a recognizable purpose, then they don’t. Can we say we “use” them?
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These silent neurons can respond to special images or movies that are not shown. Despite their name as “visual” neurons, some neurons can respond to other types of stimuli, such as the strong smells or loud noises associated with mice. But as far as we know, this is the best. Almost a quarter of the neurons in this vital brain system have little or no function in situations we can recognize.
This pattern is not limited to the visual cortex. A smaller but still impressive study recorded neurons in the part of the cortex responsible for hearing in mice. It was found that only about 10 percent of the neurons respond to sound stimuli. Other nerve cells may respond to strange sounds that are not expressed or light in the eyes skin contact or something
But the size of unresponsive neurons suggested that some neurons were silent in the majority. Neuroscientists have known about this problem for a long time. But until recently, it was standard practice to omit or refer to “unresponsive” neurons in research records.
Others estimate that the number of silent or silenced neurons is very high. Estimates of “neural dark matter” can be as high as 60% to 90%. The highest level of this estimate corresponds to 10% of the concepts examined.
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Why does the brain have so many useless neurons? Isn’t that wasteful? Evolutionary biologists propose an explanation for the phenomenon of neural dark matter in Darwin regions. Neurons that never respond are no longer subject to the selective force to punish the owners of too many neurons. According to this logic, dark neurons cannot be eliminated. If the brain is damaged, dark neurons can be activated. They are also useful during evolution when species move into new habitats or face new challenges.
It’s worth emphasizing that even very high estimates of the amount of dark matter, well, it doesn’t mean that silent neurons are clumped together in one big clump.
In your brain, however, they are scattered among “bright” or noisy neurons throughout the cortex and other parts of the brain.
Regardless of the distribution, given the metabolic cost of building and running brains, I think our brains contain more dark matter. Especially with a brain the size of ours. Our brain could not exist if more than half of our neurons never functioned. After all, de Vries’ research showed that 77 percent of the visual neurons they measured were active.
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However, these neurons did not respond all the time. Even almost all the time their answer is the opposite.
And the implications for the question of how well we use our brains. I will also show how obvious this problem is, assuming that our brains work the same way as the Internet.
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De Vries, S. E., Lecoq, J. A., Buice, M. A., Groblewski,
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