A cluster of neurons in culture

Do we only use 10 per cent of our brains?

Many people think that we only use 10 per cent of our brains and that we can harness the rest to boost our mental abilities

This is the most popular myth about the brain, and there is no scientific evidence for it – we almost certainly use all of it. The brain is a very hungry organ, consuming nearly one-quarter of the body’s energy, despite accounting for just 2 per cent of body mass. From the point of view of evolution, it just doesn’t make sense to have a large organ that consumes so much energy if only 10 per cent of it is actually needed.

Lead image:

A cluster of neurons in culture. They aggregate to form a cluster of cell bodies (blue) which throw out the red and green extensions.

Ludovic Collin/Wellcome Collection CC BY NC


About this resource

This resource was first published in ‘Inside the Brain’ in January 2013 and reviewed and updated in November 2017.

Neuroscience, Psychology
Inside the Brain, Thinking
Education levels:
16–19, Continuing professional development