Think you only use 10 percent of your brain? Try 100
New brain study debunks myth
You may have heard that you only use 10 percent of your brain. But Robert Buchanan, MD, chief of neurosurgery at Ascension Seton Brain and Spine Institute says you actually use all of it, and that a newly released study helps debunk the old myth.
Buchanan, who is also a psychiatrist and associate professor of surgery at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas, said the reason people previously thought they only used 10 percent of their brain is because research tools could only measure that 10 percent. But new technological advancements allow physicians to study deeper into areas of the brain.
“Ultimately, there may be ways that have not yet been defined of how to vigorously use the other 90% of the brain,” Buchanan said. Ascension Seton is a part of Ascension, the nation’s largest Catholic and nonprofit health care system.
Understanding the complexities of the brain requires a map of the brain’s major subdivisions, according to the study published in the journal Nature.
The study showed new regions of the brain that have not been previously discovered. New research included more information about parts of the brain that recognize places and faces as well as the part of the brain responsible for depression.
“Knowledge is power when it comes to understanding normal brain function. We have to understand normal function to understand abnormal function and vice versa,” Buchanan said, adding that it is very early in the research to say whether it will have an impact in the immediate future.
In Buchanan’s lab, similar type of research studies are performed to determine what part of the brain is related to seizures in epileptic patients, he said.
Future brain mapping applications
Buchanan said this information is a good first step toward scientists ultimately understanding and eventually curing some neurodegenerative conditions, such as:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Other psychiatric disorders
Physicians may be years away from seeing the immediate effects of how people can use the information in their everyday lives. However, Buchanan said it will be the role of physicians to figure out how to apply the study to things like preventive care, brain health and nutrition.
“This project is chipping away at the iceberg to understand the sub regions of the brain,” Buchanan said.
Ascension Seton offers comprehensive brain and spine care through the Ascension Seton Brain and Spine Institute.