Dr. Sam Wang Creates NEW BRAIN MYTHS
Two Brain EXPERTS tell you what is watt in their new book
"Facts, myths and useful tips about your brain- Welcome To Your Brain"
from "brain authorities"
Sandra Aamode and Sam Wang (Ph.D)
An alternative look by Brain Writer and Teacher, Neil Slade.
In their blog and press releases, they boldly assert (such as in the Publisher’s Weekly Review): "…Neuroscientists Aamodt, editor-in-chief of Nature Neuroscience, and Wang, of Princeton University….tackle such potentially controversial topics as whether men and women have different brains…and whether intelligence is shaped more by genes or environment….Distinguishing their book are sidebars that explode myths—no, we do not use only 10% of our brain’s potential but nearly all of it…"
This myth busting claim to fame is again touted in a recent radio appearance:
"Neuroscientist Dr. Sam Wang discussed the human brain and how it’s wired to experience various phenomena. Made of 3 lbs. of tissue with 100 billion neurons, the brain acts as an information processing device and filter. The truth is, we use all parts of our brain, not just 10% of it (a myth propagated by Dale Carnegie), he noted. " Turns out, if you actually work Dr. Wang’s claim– you discover that Dale Carnegie was actually much closer to the real truth.
Mr. Wang states makes many incorrect assumptions, such as "our brain always runs on 12 watts" as proof of 100% use of one’s neural capacity. This is no more true than saying every 12 watt appliance does equal work, or that every 12 watt appliance works at 100% efficiency– absolute rubbish.
In fact, you can have a 12 watt appliance that draws current, broken or not, and that does absolute ZERO amount of work, and merely overheats and sits there useless.
I am sure many of us have several of these examples in our homes right now, or perhaps on top of someone’s shoulder’s that we know.
Apparently, Mr. Wang flunked 11th grade Electronics class.
If we use 100% of our brain– does this imply that we use all of our neural connections all of the time, simultaneously? That’s what 100% would require.
If so, one would never seen brain activity variation seen clearly in PET and functional MRI– you can’t have fluctuation in activity and state "100% use all the time"– at the same time. Pick one– real science, or meaningless generalization.
Do you use 100% of your car? Always drive at 120MPH with a fully packed trunk and full tank of gas and six passengers?
100% of your muscles? Always running at full speed carrying 100 pounds of weight around your neck?
Such statements miss the point of brain function and potential completely, and mislead people about what the brain actually does.
"It is a myth that we only use 10% of our human brain."
It is common to hear this statement, alarmingly even from a few people who label themselves as "scientific" or as researchers.
In actuality, such a comment as above, is more misleading itself than the so-called myth of unused brain potential.
You no more use 90% of your brain potential than you use 90% of your muscle potential all of the time.
To say that we use all of our brain, would be like saying Arnold Schwarzenegger or Lou Firigno had as 90 pound teenagers reached the pinnacle of their muscular development.
You no more use all of your brain all of the time than you use 100% of your lung capacity sitting at your computer keyboard.
You no more use all of your brain all of the time than you use all of your car all of the time; that you always drive at the full potential of your Honda; that you always drive at the top speed of your car; that your trunk and seats are always filled to capacity; that you have even figured out and daily employ every single way in which you could use your car.
To say that we use all of our brain ignores the fact that you keep losing your car keys all the time.
To say that we use all of our brain ignores the fact that you couldn’t remember where you left your car in the parking garage- even though this is well within your brain potential.
Sir John Eccles has stated his feelings on the infinite potential of the human brain, and he won the Noble prize.
Such a statement that "We use all of our brain all of the time" or "It is a myth that we only use 10% of our brain" are both misleading and unhelpful uninspiring skeptical crumbs with barely a grain of truth- As well as not even being accurate statements regarding usage of the human brain.
Humans have an unlimited capacity to learn. Unlike computers, no human brain has ever said: "Hard drive full."
A simple look at brain scans will show us that the brain modulates dramatically from one moment to the next in regards to its activity and usage. Here it is then, on the screen of Functional MRI machines and Pet scans, incontrovertible evidence that we do not use all of our brain all of the time.
To say "We use all of our brain all of the time" says nothing about the potential of human intelligence, creativity, and problem solving. Such a skeptical rebuttal of the vast potential of the human think machine implies that we have reached our limits of brain potential- probably the most harmful dead end notion of all. We haven’t even gotten close.
Our frontal lobes have been culturally and socially lobotomized. At this stage of evolution, we are simply still Apes With Pencils.
That’s actually very good news.
Why do some such "experts" delight it saying "It is a MYTH that we only use 10% of our brain." ?
It’s the old, "I know more than YOU Game. It’s an ego thing. It’s a reptile brain on-upmanship thing. It’s the old "You are stupid and I am smart by comparison thing." Skeptics LOVE telling people they are wrong. It makes them feel superior. It is a sin of omission, as as often as not, such people making this contrary statement do not really let us know the whole story.
"It is a myth that you only use 10% of your brain" is no more helpful and informative than saying, "The moon is not made of green cheese". It tells us very little, indeed.
So, as it turns out, to say that "We only use 10% of our brain, only 10% of our brain potential"- this is actually an infinitely optimistic, as well as a considerably reasonable and thoughtful perspective of the possibilities that reside inside our craniums.
It is a helpful generalization and observation by and for the lay person, and although not literally precise, it reflects upon the reality that owners of a human think box have an enormous mental potential from which to draw, from which we as individuals and as a human culture, often as not, ignore.
Dormancy of the Human Brain
Dormant Brain Research and Development Laboratory
T.D.A. Lingo, Director
The human brain is only 10% functional, at best.
The first to outline this theory, later proved a fact by others, was Australian Neurology Nobel Laureate Sir John Eccles. (Lecture: University of Colorado, University Memorial Center Boulder, July 31, 1974.) "The brain indicates its powers are endless."
In England, John Lorber did autopsies on hydrocephalics. This illness causes all but the 1/6th inch layer of brain tissue to be dissolved by acidic spinal fluid. He tested the IQ’s of patients before and during the disease. His findings showed that IQ remained constant up to death. Although over 90% of brain tissue was destroyed by the disease, it had no impact on what we consider to be normal intelligence.
Russian neurosurgeon Alexandre Luria proved that the 1/3 bulk of frontal lobes are mostly dormant. He did this by performing ablation experiments on persons. He gave physiological and psychological tests before, cut out parts and whole frontal lobes, the re-tested after. His conclusion: removal of part or all of frontal lobes causes no major change in brain function, (some change in mood alteration). The frontal lobes are mostly dormant, asleep. (Luria, A.R. "Frontal Lobes and the Regulation of Behavior." In: K.H. Pribram and A.R. Luria, Editors, Psychophysiology of the Frontal Lobes. New York, and London, Academic Press, 1973)
Finally, the human brain contains 10 billion neurons, mostly in the outer layer of brain cortex. the function of these currently dominant cells is fairly clear. but the brain also contains 120 billion glial cells. Aside from some secondary nurturing of neurons, the primary function of the glia is not clear. What big bang miracle awaits mankind within these mysteries?
Today, most would agree without argument that the potential of the human brain is infinite. Thus, to state that a person uses 10%, 5%, or even 1% of their potential brain capacity (infinity) is overly generous.
The point is this: There is no dispute among honestly rational experts about the latent potential of the human think box. There is only friendly dispute about how much and what still awaits us, patiently to be self-discovered between each set of ears. Hence, the wisdom of intuitive folksay was correct: "The human brain is only 10% functional." John Eccles thinks that number is too high. "How can you calculate a percentage of infinity?"
Here’s another useful analogy-
The amount of current one’s brain draws is in no way indicative of the quality nor quantity of work it is doing… It only demonstrates that SOMETHING is happening.
So watt. 🙂
You have a computer. You plug it in and it draws current that runs the processor. You run various programs, and you note the CPU usage– 5%, 10%, 20%. Try it– on a PC it’s easy, hold down control, alt, and delete and it brings up the Task Manager and tells you the CPU Usage.
You can run any number of programs well, and use a fraction of the available CPU power.
Now, install your favorite (haha) VIRUS program that hijacks your system.
It may very well lock up your CPU at 50%,75% or more– and NONE of your programs work. In fact, you can’t do anything on your computer, and you may not even be able to boot it up.
Yet, it’s drawing even MORE power and wattage from your power supply.
Power draw is irrelevant to the idea that "we are using 100% of our brain". It’s meaningless.
Similarly, you may have two electric cars–
Both draw 5000 watts, both have the same motor, both have fully charged batteries, and are switched on at the same time.
One motor is mounted on a car with four properly inflated tires, and it goes 200 miles on a single charge.
The other motor is mounted on a car with four flat tires– and the motor isn’t even connected to the transmission. In fact, the hood of the car has been left open, and the bearings have been exposed to the weather, and the armature is rusted. The motor squeals, and drains the battery exactly the same as in the properly maintained vehicle above. This car uses the same amount of electricity, yet goes ZERO miles on a single full charge.
The notion that current draw somehow reflects total and normal brain function, much less fulfilling brain potential– is dangerously misleading.
What is more important, and probably more relevant, is why someone would try so hard to disprove a sensible notion such as "we don’t approach our full brain potential, we only use 10% of our brain"— a clearly useful METAPHOR, as well as a reasonable reflection of our cultural lack of imagination, rational intellect, and, need to conform to conventional wisdom and dependence on old ideas.
I.e.– we really don’t use our brains as they could be used, but rather vegetate and blindly watch TV and follow charismatic authority figures and swallow ideas whole without really chewing them up, digesting them, or alternatively spitting out those that are indigestible in the first place.
What is at the root of the issue of "how much brain do we use" is not wattage, or that "we use all parts of our brain"– but rather, how are the neurons connected? Why can one person with the same brain volume as another solve a puzzle, while another remains clueless?
Mr. Wang himself tells us that people now do better on IQ tests at the end of the 20th Century than they did at the end of the 19th Century.
The problem with this observation, is that it directly contradicts his statement that we use 100% of our brain–
I don’t think there is any evidence that Joe Smith born in 1980 was born with a bigger brain than Frank Brown born in 1880.
And if they were both using 100% of their brain, how does one explain better brain function in the year 2000?
I learned my lesson about not bowing down and falling over and relinquishing my judgment in the presence of "EXPERTS" last year after falling down my basement stairs and rupturing a couple of discs in my spine.
I duly went to my local resident spinal surgeon, complete with 2000 square feet of office space, two million dollars of x-ray equipment, 5 receptionists, and 10 diplomas proudly displayed on his wall. He declared me permanently injured, and requiring of nothing less than removal of portions of my vertebrae to remove a disc, replace it with a titanium spacer, and then fusion of several vertebrae with titanium rods.
He then said I would certainly further need future spinal surgery in a few years.
I then actually used MORE brain power than this expert, and walked out of his office never to return, if more brain power means not spending $50,000 on a very risky and needless surgery.
A year later, without any surgery whatsoever, I am completely healed and have totally normal spinal function and movement.
Beware the experts who "KNOW".