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1. Inside the Brain: Hacks 1–12 > 6. Neuropsychology, the 10% Myth, and Why You...

Neuropsychology, the 10% Myth, and Why You Use All of Your Brain

Neuropsychology is the study of what different parts of the brain do by studying people who no longer have those parts. As well as being the oldest technique of cognitive neuroscience, it refutes the oft-repeated myth that we only use 10% of our brains.

Of the many unscientific nuggets of wisdom about the brain that many people believe, the most common may be the “fact” that we use only 10% of our brains.

In a recent survey of people in Rio de Janeiro with at least a college education, approximately half stated that the 10% myth was true. 1 There is no reason to suppose the results of a similar survey conducted anywhere else in the world would be radically different. It’s not surprising that a lot of people believe this myth, given how often it is claimed to be true. Its continued popularity has prompted one author to state that the myth has “a shelf life longer than lacquered Spam”. 2


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