Unfortunately, the percentage of our brains harnessed for daily work remains a bit of a mystery, based upon unproven theories.
One thing is certain though—the frequently repeated notion that human beings only utilize 10% of their brains is nonsense. Despite the fact that this myth has never been supported by scientists, it has gained a proverbial life of its own.
Though an alluring idea, the “10 percent myth” is so wrong it is almost laughable, says neurologist Barry Gordon at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine . . .*
Another neurologist adds another interesting perspective.
Although it’s true that at any given moment all of the brain’s regions are not concurrently firing, brain researchers using imaging technology have shown that, like the body’s muscles, most are continually active over a 24-hour period. “Evidence would show over a day you use 100 percent of the brain,” says John Henley, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic . . .
Which Half Runs the Show?
Assuming you use nearly all of the gray and white matter stuffed in your cranium, there is another question that begs an answer. Which hemisphere is dominant?
Medical scientists have identified numerous mental functions with particular regions of the brain. As the illustration above suggests, because of that the human mind relies on different hemispheres for different activities.
Most of us have already determined whether we are “right-brained” or “left-brained.” And, since we often know ourselves rather well, we’re probably correct in our assessment.
Still, there are some online tests capable of answering the question of just how well balanced we are in using whatever portion of our minds to which we have access. I recently took two of the assessment instruments and learned that I am a reasonably balanced individual.
You just may be more balanced than you think. Not that “balanced” is better than having one or the other side dominant. In fact, it feels a bit like being a “jack of all trades.”
The first test—available for you to take here—gave me the wonderful news that my “right and left hemispheres seem to have reached a level of perfect harmony.”
It sounds almost like attaining Nirvana, if one believes in such things.
It was amazing what they were able to discern about my deepest being with twelve simple questions.
The second test—available here—gave me the following result. It reveals the mental equilibrium I have achieved with this informative graphic.
I really enjoyed the image (yellow is my second favorite color) . . . until I realized the uncolored portions of my brain suggested they were dormant. (I suspect the very fact that I’m concerned about the possibility implies it might be true.)
Lewis on the Human Mind
C.S. Lewis wrote about many aspects of human nature. That included, of course, the least understood organ, the brain. In the following passage from a 1921 letter, he describes the way our memories possess the power to transform the realities of the past.
I still feel that the real value of such a holiday is still to come, in the images and ideas which we have put down to mature in the cellarage [cellar or basement] of our brains, thence to come up with a continually improving bouquet.
Already the hills are getting higher, the grass greener, and the sea bluer than they really were; and thanks to the deceptive working of happy memory our poorest stopping places will become haunts of impossible pleasure and Epicurean repast.
The following argument is found in 1944’s “Is Theology Poetry?” His thoughts on how the human brain supports the existence of a Creator are well worth considering.
When I accept Theology I may find difficulties, at this point or that, in harmonising it with some particular truths which are imbedded in the mythical cosmology derived from science. But I can get in, or allow for, science as a whole. Granted that Reason is prior to matter and that the light of that primal Reason illuminates finite minds. I can understand how men should come, by observation and inference, to know a lot about the universe they live in.
If, on the other hand, I swallow the scientific cosmology as a whole, then not only can I not fit in Christianity, but I cannot even fit in science. If minds are wholly dependent on brains, and brains on bio-chemistry, and bio-chemistry (in the long run) on the meaningless flux of the atoms, I cannot understand how the thought of those minds should have any more significance than the sound of the wind in the trees.
And this is to me the final test.
This is how I distinguish dreaming and waking. When I am awake I can, in some degree, account for and study my dream. The dragon that pursued me last night can be fitted into my waking world. I know that there are such things as dreams: I know that I had eaten an indigestible dinner: I know that a man of my reading might be expected to dream of dragons. But while in the nightmare I could not have fitted in my waking experience. The waking world is judged more real because it can thus contain the dreaming world: the dreaming world is judged less real because it cannot contain the waking one.
For the same reason I am certain that in passing from the scientific point of view to the theological, I have passed from dream to waking. Christian theology can fit in science, art, morality, and the sub-Christian religious. The scientific point of view cannot fit in any of these things, not even science itself.
Even with my limited mind, which too often seems to run on only six of its eight cylinders, I recognize the wisdom of Lewis’ contrast between dreaming and waking. He is brilliant.
I imagine that our favorite Oxford dean’s online results might have looked something like this.
* This quotation, and the one which follows it, come from Scientific American.
I have blogged in the past about the human brain. You might find one of the following posts interesting: