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Daniel

Do we really use 10% of our brain ?

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http://www.sciam.com/print_version.cfm?articleID=000B077E-AD46-1047-AD4683414B7F0000

 

I had the impression that this statement about using 10% of our brain involved our ability to use only 10% of our brain at any one time.

 

So if that was the case, this article would not be rebutting such a interpretation.

 

Recently I remember an article showing that kids known as "child genuises" have been shown to use more of their brain when figuring out problems.

 

Is this what causes people to be smarter ? If we can use more than the supposed 10% of our brain at once, I suppose it would make problem solving a lot easier. Or would it ?

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no

 

but to answer your question with some more precision, i'd say a better question is in order on your part. for example, are you saying that when a person thinks, only certain portions of the brain become active, they and only they are the ones we use?

 

a pet scan shows when brain is stimulated will show a spread of stimuli - or colors, on different portions of the brain. kind of like a christman tree with blinking lights

 

I had the impression that this statement about using 10% of our brain involved our ability to use only 10% of our brain at any one time.
No, sorry, you were misinformed.

 

So if that was the case, this article would not be rebutting such a interpretation.

too long of an article, and i'm too tired(work nights;) ) i'll read it tonight

 

 

Is this what causes people to be smarter ?
more or less, the thing that causes people to be smarter is how fast the neurons fire and how many are doing it. also i believe that one of the sources is indeed SciAm that recently published an article that a new research(and it is indeed) is underway of the brain as not only Neurons are what makes us smart, etc, but also the Glia cells. it was always thought that glia cells support neurons but are not involved in info-processing abilities and such or communicating with neurons or pass their(neuronal) messages, etc. they are trying to find out/work out the details.

 

neurons (fastest) use lightning-electrical charges in their communications more or less, glia(slower) cells communicate chemically and can spread their message to a wider area. also another factor in works here that plays quite a significant role is what's called 'sheath myelination'(sp? i always forget how to spell that one) it greatly increases the speeds of neuronal communication.

because let's say neuron A is in the brain and it wants to talk to neuron B which is in your toe and there is one long cable stretched between the 2 points, if this 'cable' does not have problems with myelination then the electical curent will jump from one segment of the sheath to the next thereby speading up the communication even faster, as opposed to the opposite there there's hardly any sheath or cable has no segments that the current can jump from one to the next but is very smooth(i guess, can't think of a better word at this time) , then it will go very slow kind of like taking a long hose and watching water flow from point A to B and it has to cover the whole distance of the hose.

 

If we can use more than the supposed 10% of our brain at once
you do. i don't know if this is feasable, but search the internet for a Video clip of a Pet Scan in progress ;)

 

I suppose it would make problem solving a lot easier. Or would it ?

it's not that simple, i'm afraid. but basically, the more active neurons, the faster they fire and the faster, is what's thought to improve long term memories, etc.

 

 

 

but i'll wait for your responce ;)

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using all of the brain at once is commonly known as a seizure. Humans do use the entirity of their brain, just not all at the same time. however proponents of ideas such as "humans only use 10% of their brain" may indeed only use 10% of their brain.

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Sorry if my post was vague, I had a few minutes before my internet shut down.

 

To elaborate. I was wondering what actually helps with problem solving and understanding of higher concepts.

 

From what I gather from admiral, it is related to how much of your brain you can draw upon. Is that correct ?

 

To make the 10% thing clearer, how much of the brain does the average person use when trying to solve a problem ? Is there a limit as to how much of the brain resources they can devote to one specific concept, and do people reach this limit ?

 

As another topic, do you believe that the brain has its limits ? In otherwords, are there certain concepts that we as humans cannot possibly understand due to the physical limitations of the brain ?

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Our brain is still very much like a pandora's box. There are a lot of things about it that we simply don't know yet. Also, abiding by the codes and restrains of ethics, some of the experiments to probe deeper or further may not be possible, etc.

Anyway, that was some general disclaimers, more or less, but now to some of your questions:

 

Q:To make the 10% thing clearer, how much of the brain does the average person use when trying to solve a problem ? Is there a limit as to how much of the brain resources they can devote to one specific concept, and do people reach this limit ?

A: the brain doesn't work like that, it's not more or less a solid organ that when stimulated, certain parts will do one thing, while certain other parts will do something else, etc. not like for an example a Heart or Liver where the entire organ is more or less performing the same function. Brain is a vast collection of Neurons, Glia cells, roughly speaking. So as opposed to more or less of a Solid organ(heart) where almost all of it does 1 job, neurons function at individual levels. On top of that, brain is subdivided into several major parts(Frontal, Temporal, Parietal, Occipital lobes, etc, so depending on what is called for, you get activities in various parts of the brain) so when your brain is stimulated, say by you watching a movie, some neurons fire and some don't.

 

Although some may certaintly use more of the brain then others - or a better way of saying this is perhaps: it is possible that the amount of brain activity people have even when grouped together performing the same task or test may vary.

 

Then there are the glia cells that do their function to support and nourish and even communicate to and for neurons. Many of these functions are performed in conjunction to others. Such as when you see an object say a picture, it has to be sent from your eyes to the brain, the picture has to be reversed or focused more or less because when you look at an object, your visual system register the object upside down, etc. Hope this shows you how many things have to work together to accomplish what seems a very simple task. There are certain parts that tend to be active more in some specific areas then others, but for most such as language, learning, long term memory the process is far more complicated than being centered to only 1 specific area.

 

Q:Is there a limit as to how much of the brain resources they can devote to one specific concept, and do people reach this limit ?

I'd say the 1st part of this is Undetermined and 2nd part is no.

Brain, once again, being extremely sophisticated organ does not seem to have a limit and it has an ability to evolve. A few examples:

If someone has a brain damage or lesion on a certain region, with time, patience and training, that person may have his brain somewhat 'reprogrammed' to make up for the thing that he is currently lacking so a function whose performance was mainly or kind of concentrated more in one area is now done by another. Neurons can re-grow - this is where Glia cells help.

Another example is they took a frog, and surgically set it's eyes upside down. So naturally the frog was seeing everything upside down and had an extremely hard time with this condition when they reversed the eyes, things went back to normal. They couldn't really take out a persons eyeballs and set them upside down(due to ethics ;) ) so they did the next best thing: they had this person wear eye goggles that does the same thing. and he was wearing it for a week or so(don't remember the exact time) well, at first he had problems adjusting, just like the frog, but as the experiment went on, this condition became 'Norm'. He was able to adjust to have his vision flipped upside down. At the end of the experiment when the took the goggles off, he again had problems because he was now used to seeing things that to your or me would be upside down and after a slightly longer then normal sleep cycle ( I believe he slept for about 16 hours or so), his brain readjusted once again. this time to what it should be to you, me, anybody.

See what I mean about the (human)brain being a super sophisticated piece of biological machinery? That's why there's still a tremendous amount of things that are simply not known to us at this time, but psychologists and neurosciences are advancing our knowledge a bit at a time. So for some questions there are no answers yet.

 

 

Q:As another topic, do you believe that the brain has its limits ?

A:No, I don't think there is, assuming that you're working with a 'healthy' brain.

 

Q:In other words, are there certain concepts that we as humans cannot possibly understand due to the physical limitations of the brain ?

A:This is harder to answer than your other questions. Perhaps someone can assist me here, but until then, I say 'Maybe'.

 

To better asnwer a question such as "do we really use 10% of our brain....." it is helpful to look at some images or better yet a video (if you can get a hold of one) of the PET scan.

 

but this is how it looks like:

it'll all or most appear to be very dark but as the brain is stimulated, more and more neutrons/glia start communicating. colors would start at very cold tones then move to warm and back to cold. hence my earlier analogy: it'll light up like a christmas tree and when the stimulus is removed it goes back to it's darker colors.

http://gamma.wustl.edu/pb004pb211.gif

 

http://www.pnl.gov/energyscience/03-01/PET-obesity.jpg

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Our brain is still very much like a pandora's box

Filled with all the evils of the world?

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using all of the brain at once is commonly known as a seizure.

is that True? because I was going to ask that exact thing, "What if we used all at once?"

 

so is it using all at once that causes the seizure or is it the seisure that forces the all at once but in an unproductive way?

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A very informative post admiral. Thanks for taking the time to explain those concepts to me.

 

Now that I have a better idea of how the brain works, I see that some of the questions I asked were rather incorrect.

 

It is quite incredible how little we know about the brain.

 

Out of interest, what was the conclusion of the last PET scan that you linked ? The one with the obese vs the normal person's brain ?

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is that True? because I was going to ask that exact thing' date=' "What if we used all at once?"

 

so is it using all at once that causes the seizure or is it the seisure that forces the all at once but in an unproductive way?[/quote']

 

basically, a seizure is a heavily overloaded circut(board). too much activity or too much extended activity and various portions tend to shutdown - some maybe permanently

 

Out of interest, what was the conclusion of the last PET scan that you linked ? The one with the obese vs the normal person's brain ?

i assume that since obviously both people undergone the same test or series of tests - couldn't have been possible otherwise since then the conclusions would have been biased and flawed - but an obese person's body and not just the brain does double or triple the amount of work than that of a 'normal'. but anybody here with further insight into neuropsychology can probably give you a much more detailed explanation.

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the way it was described to me was that it was like a lightening/electrical storm in the brain, and yes, it`s a very oversimplistic illustration to say the least :)

it`s an area I know little to nothing about, but am non the less interested in because of this :)

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the way it was described to me was that it was like a lightening/electrical storm in the brain, and yes, it`s a very oversimplistic illustration to say the least :)

 

pretty much.

 

Neurons - Electricity

Glia cell - Chemically

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I saw a pet scan of a schitzophrenic compared to a non-schozophrenic. It was really interesting...

 

The regular brain fired in a wave pattern emminating from whichever part of the brain that was triggered.

 

The schizoid brain fired seemingly at random, with sparks all over the brain.

 

I would love to see pet scans of people with different mental conditions and how they differ.

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Guest glinert123

No if you took large parts of brains out that you would still be sick. And lose brain cels. Also you see all parts of brain interspersed.

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the way it was described to me was that it was like a lightening/electrical storm in the brain' date=' and yes, it`s a very oversimplistic illustration to say the least :)

it`s an area I know little to nothing about, but am non the less interested in because of this :)[/quote']

That's a reasonable way of looking at it. Seizures tend to have generator loci which spark off random activity which then (in serious cases) spreads throughout both hemispheres. Sometimes, these generator loci can be burned out sugically. Sometimes they are in a critical area and can't and the sufferer has to treated with long-term drug therapy. In the most severe (life threatening) cases, surgery is performed, cutting through the corpus collosum to separate the two hemispheres so that when a seizure is triggered, it is limited to one hemisphere only. As an aside, a lot has been learned about the brain through study of these split-brain cases, which are fascinating; literally a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. But that's another thread.

 

The key factor is randomness rather than level of activity. Even small locallized seizures (focal fits) which don't lead to a great deal of acivity overall, cause random activity in a localized area which results in localised physical disruption, e.g. one arm fitting whilst the sufferer just watches it and waits for the fit to pass. A very odd thing to watch.

 

Neurons - Electricity

Glia cell - Chemically

Neurons - electro chemical transmission

Glial cells - support, insulation and nutrition.

 

Schwann cells (PNS) - Insulation

Oligodendrocytes (CNS) - Stuctural support and insulation

Astrocytes (CNS) - Transport of nutrients

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There is an interesting phenomena where people with temporal lobe seizures feel that they "experience god". Apparently the area of the brain that connects the emotional response to stimuli (not sure which part but don't think it involved lymbic system) is over stimulated and thus the person feels an undiscribable reaction of understanding to ordinary events and even objects. This happens right before the grand maul part (shaking) begins and the person blacks out for this. I watched an interview were an epileptic man told his father that even though his father had to go everywhere with him and supervise his life incase he had a seizure (for example couldn't drive a car, also his father had to watch him have a grand maul everytime, ect.) if there was an operation to cure him without any risk he would not take it. The feeling of "understanding" was too great and wonderful to let go.

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It is quite incredible how little we know about the brain.

 

Weird when you think about how much it's been studied, compared to other organs.

 

Which is the part of the brain that holds a persons conscience? Does this part deal primarily with problem solving?

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I am late fo rthis one, I know, but the whole 10 or 15% things is hogwash. Just like the nails and hair growing after death thing. They are both used in movies and other fiction to make things mysterious or something, then people get to believing it. I don't need to read anything to know this. The human brain is very expensive, energy-wise to run properly. We may have the food energy all around us now, but when we evolved we didn't. If 90% of it was worthless, then what would be with point of having it there?

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