How much of our brain do we use?

Perhaps you have read somewhere about the percentage of our brain that we use, so you have a wrong idea of ​​it. The brain is one of the most important organs of the human being which fulfills many functions at the same time, its use is integral.

That is why knowing how much we use of our brain can give you a better idea to understand how it works. Having said that, this time we will talk to you about the reality of how the brain carries out its main job: allowing us to live.

The myth of using our brain

Much has been said that human beings use only 10% of their brain capacity, never reaching its maximum. This is nothing more than a myth that over the years has been spreading among people in different social spheres.

The reality is that, despite the fact that in certain situations we do not use all the areas of our brain, this does not mean that it is bad . There are parts that are dedicated specifically to understanding and analyzing our environment, as well as others that process our speech.

Others are also in charge of the motor part of our body, while others of logical and mathematical reasoning. Each part fulfills a specific function that at the same time interconnects with others through the neurons, making the synapse.

Thinking about using 100% of our brain is not bad, but physiologically it would entail a great consumption of energy; we would always be tired because of this.

How to know which areas of the brain are active and inactive?

The brain is made up of millions of neurons, which are responsible for transmitting electrical impulses. These contain information that we collect from our environment through the different senses such as sight, hearing or smell, among others.

It is scientifically proven that the most active areas of the brain require a higher energy consumption ; therefore, they need more oxygen and glucose. Because of this, more blood circulates to the neurons where they get what they need.

Through an MRI

In an MRI you can study the blood flow of the brain, so you can know which areas are more active than others. Likewise, neurons that are more inactive receive less blood, oxygen, and glucose.

The most inactive areas are usually due to injury or damage to the nervous system; neurons are responsible for processing all the information it receives from the environment. MRI is the only study that can tell us how our brain is doing.

Brain plasticity

The concept of brain plasticity encompasses the branches of psychology and neurology, being a bit complex to define. But in general terms, it is the ability of our brain to adapt as a result of the different experiences, such as learning.

Any change in the nervous system in structure, genetics and behavior throughout our lives can be defined as brain or neuronal plasticity. Basically, it's the brain's ability to regenerate and restructure itself due to its environment.

Just as we can talk about neuronal or brain plasticity, we must also mention what neurogenesis, synaptic plasticity and compensatory functional plasticity are.


Years ago this term could be considered a heresy, because it was believed that neurons died and no more could be created. However, it is proven that neurogenesis exists: is the birth and proliferation of new neurons in the brain.

In recent years it has been shown that stem cells divide into two: the stem cell and a cell that becomes a perfectly functional neuron These neurons are located in areas of the brain where they are required , maintaining neural capacity.

Synaptic plasticity

When we develop new learning through practice or live new experiences, new circuits or paths between neurons are created. The more they are reinforced, the stronger these neural connections become.

This results in faster and improved synaptic transmission, so cognitive processing is also enhanced. Synaptic plasticity is the ability of the brain to develop new knowledge, being the pillar of learning.

Compensatory Functional Plasticity

The brain is also capable that when a neuronal zone does not work well, for example, when you are blind, its other zones are compensated . Compensatory functional plasticity is the ability to compensate functions by using other brain areas.

The brain's ability to reorganize its neurocognitive networks is present mainly in older people because, as people age, neuronal capacity decreases.

Neural development with age

Numerous studies have shown that during the first years of life is when brain plasticity is greater, allowing all external stimuli to shape the structure of the brain. This is because, being in an environment, our brain adapts in order to survive.

An example of this is the ability of babies to make sounds according to need. In this way, and by obtaining a response from the environment, new connections between neurons are created in the brain for a more solid synapse.

Influence of age on brain plasticity

The essential learning for adaptation to the environment is carried out with brain plasticity at its best. However, this does not always happen because it is linked to critical periods or moments when the brain is prepared for it.

As a child grows, he develops in his environment, so he does not require active teaching. The same environment pushes them to develop new skills, where brain plasticity fulfills its main function: organizing neurons.

Critical periods in growth

When brain structures are rooted and mature, they gain the ability to perform a function. The critical periods are named this way because they are ideal moments of neuronal maturity where synaptic development is easier.

In the case of not developing its function in that period, later it will be much more difficult to do it or even impossible. That is why we must pay full attention to the motor, cognitive and communicative growth of children as they grow and develop.

Neural plasticity and the environment

Learning is a complex process that takes place throughout life, from birth to death. Although brain plasticity and how much we use our brain varies depending on the situation and the environment, it is limited by age.

As you get older, it is more difficult to develop new knowledge, that is, to learn expendable skills. However, with active effort, the brain is capable of developing or reinforcing neural connections in order to consolidate learning.

Thus, the saying “old dog doesn't learn new tricks” may not be so true.It is possible that an older person, with a mature neural structure, could learn new skills

It can be more easily if it becomes essential to survive or with the right stimuli. Experience has a great influence on brain plasticity and how our brain organizes its neural structure.

We use our whole brain

The brain is one of the most powerful organs of the human being, which consumes 20% of the oxygen plus 50% of the glucose that enters the body. What's more, it is scientifically proven that when you sleep, all areas of the brain are activated.

Only when an injury or damage is suffered, certain areas of the brain are deactivated, affecting daily life. However, it has been shown that damage to one area compromises a function that involves several areas, which shows that not only a part of the brain works but the entire brain .

On the other hand, when an area is damaged, the brain modifies its neural network to take advantage of the capacity. This also verifies that our brain is fully functional depending on the skill that is required.

However, not using all your brain power is not a death-dealing evil . It all depends on the action that is taking place, this is what influences how many or which areas of the brain we are using. Solving math problems is not the same as reading history.

How to improve our neural capacity?

Experts recommend that in order to have a fully developed brain it is important to lead a healthy life: eat well, exercise and rest at night. On the other hand, although the routine is easy, from time to time learning new things improves our ability.

Likewise, doing things that one enjoys, in addition to having good habits, greatly helps to get more out of 100% of our brain. Staying busy doing logic exercises also helps improve neural capacity.

There is no doubt that the brain is the most complex organ that, since our birth, is in constant evolution. And to the extent that we use it more trying to learn new things, leading a healthy life and constantly exercising it, we will be able to keep it healthy.


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