October 19, 2017
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Do we use only ten percent of our brain?

By: Steven Campbell
October 13, 2017

“We use only ten percent of our brain.” 

That amazing declaration is believed by almost everyone!

What is even more amazing is where it came from!

It came from Dale Carnegie when he was marketing “How to Win Friends and Influence People” back in 1936. In doing so, he introduced America to the possibility of being “geniuses” if only we could tap into the other 90 percent!

Perhaps another source was Williams James, the founder of psychology who argued that “We are making use of only a small part of our possible mental and physical resources.” This was in 1907.

In other words, we only use ten percent of our brain was suggested decades before science could have known whether it was true or not.

To put it another way, we only use ten percent of our brain was made up!

It is almost laughable!

“Though it’s an alluring idea, the ‘10 percent myth’ is so wrong it is almost laughable,” says neurologist Barry Gordon at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. “We use virtually every part of the brain; and most of it is active almost all the time.” John Henley, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic says, “…over a day you use 100 percent of the brain. Even in sleep, the frontal cortex which controls things like higher level thinking and self-awareness is active.”

So why has this myth endured for so long? It may come from the fact that we see sometimes our own shortcomings as evidence of untapped gray matter, as when we exclaim, “I just wasn’t using my head!’ 

However, realize this…

In pouring a simple cup of coffee, you must:

Walk toward the coffeepot

Reach for the mug

Reach for the coffee

Pour the brew into the mug

Leave extra room for cream

Put the mug down.

Pick up the cream.

Pour the cream.

Pick up the mug

Stir the contents


In that one act alone, you used:

The occipital lobe

The parietal lobe

The motor sensory cortices

The sensory motor cortices

Basal Ganglia

The cerebellum

The frontal lobes

Now, how much of the steps did you need to remember? NONE OF IT! All of these came automatically from the trillions of patterns stored in your brain!

In fact, the human brain is regarded by the scientific world as the most complex organism in the universe. Every moment it is performing millions of mundane acts, in addition to composing concertos, issuing manifestos and developing mind-blowing equations. It is also the wellspring of our feelings, behaviors, experiences, memory and self-awareness. So, it’s no surprise that the brain remains a mystery unto itself.

How much of our brain can we use?

THAT IS UP TO US! We are in fact using as much of our brain as we really do.

A Student’s Story

A student told me this story many years ago, and I wrote it down so I would not forget it.

When the student was in another college, his professor was a real rebel-rouser. He had dropped out of high school, was on probation and was unemployed. He met a girl when he was still in high school who he wanted to take out. He could never get the courage to ask her; however, because he felt that she would never go out with him due to his background.  

However, he finally got up the guts to ask her out.  When he did, she looked at him, and asked, “Are you a gentleman?” He paused…for a very long time.  She got a bit nervous…

He finally said, “Yes I am.” 

That was the one-time affirmation that changed his life.  

He went on and returned to school, eventually earning a PhD. He has a Black Belt in Martial Arts and speaks eight languages, although he told this student, “I can only speak about six fluently.”  


And….he married the girl.




Robynne Boyd began writing about people and the planet when living barefoot and by campfire on the North Shore of Kauai, Hawaii. Over a decade later and now fully dependent on electricity, she continues this work as an editor for IISD Reporting Services. When not in search of misplaced commas and terser prose, Robynne writes about environment and energy. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.


Steven Campbell is the author of “Making Your Mind Magnificent” and conducts “The Winners Circle” every two months at Sonoma Mountain Village in RP. Contact Steven at 480-5007 or go his website at to ask about his one-day free monthly seminar.