Using more of the human brain

There is no high gear, no untapped potential. Humans use most of their brains.
Credit: Dreamstime

"They say we can only access 20 percent of our brains... well, this [drug] lets you access all of it!"

That's the promise and premise behind the new thriller "Limitless, " about a writer who takes an experimental drug that allows him to use 100 percent of his brain, providing him with superhuman memory, concentration, and other fantastic abilities.

Many people believe we only use a small fraction of our brains. Some people even claim that they are able to use more of their brains than others, providing them with psychic powers. After all, as the plot of "Limitless" asks — Who knows what we could do by tapping into the other 80 or 90 percent we're not using?

Accessing all of your brain may seem like an amazing pipe dream — except that you're already doing it. There's no higher gear, no untapped potential that you don't already have access to. It's a myth. The fact is that people use all of their brains. Brain-imaging research clearly shows that the entire brain is engaged. There are no "unused" or "inaccessible" parts. It's true that some chemicals and drugs can boost the brain's ability to remember, process information, or be alert—as any coffee or energy drinker knows.

"The last century has witnessed the advent of increasingly sophisticated technologies for snooping in the brain’s traffic, " according to Dr. Scott Lilienfeld in his book "50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions about Human Behavior, " (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010). "Despite this detailed mapping, no quiet areas awaiting new assignments have emerged. In fact, even simple tasks generally require contributions of processing areas spread throughout virtually the whole brain.”

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