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Brain utilization

F. Frank LeFever flefever at ix.netcom.com
Thu Feb 25 00:15:50 EST 1999

I guess until somebody drives a stake through its heart, this one will
come back to haunt us several times a year.  As Jason says, it's

However, 90% of the time 90% of people do not use their brains for
anything important.

F. LeFever

In <7b2b44$a3u$1 at news1.tc.umn.edu> ebau0002 at tc.umn.SPAMNOT.edu (Jason
Ebaugh) writes: 
>The "you only use 10% of your brain" nonsense came about from the fact
>that people have lost 90% of their brain in accidents and their heart
>still beated, they could breath, and they could still crap their
>Nuronal tissue is very expensive physiologically, and evolution would
>never select for the 90% that supposedly isn't used.
>I remeber a 3rd grade teacher I had that used to us that we only used
>10% of our brain in a way that seemed like we were supposed to feel
>guilty about it or something.
>It is a wives tale, utter nonsense.
>"David B. Held" <dheld at uswest.net> wrote:
>>  I'm "Bill Gates" that asked the neurotransmitter question before (I
>>was on a public computer).  Thanks for all the comments...they were
>>quite informative.  I have a pretty simple question that's kind of
>>bugged me for quite some time.  If it's in a FAQ somewhere, please
>>me the location.  You hear a common citation that we only use 10% of
>>brain.  Where does that come from, and what do they mean by "use
>>  My guess is that "they" mean only 10% of the neurons in the brain
>>firing at any one time, or that 10% of the total possible glucose
>>consumption is observed at any one time.  If it's the former, then I
>>wouldn't ever want to use 100%, because I would definitely be in a
>>chaotic and fairly useless state of mind.  If it's the latter, then I
>>still wouldn't want to use 100%, or my brain would probably look like
>>anti-drug commercial.  Who's to say what the "capacity" of the brain
>>  I roughly estimated that if each neuron had on average, say 100
>>connections, and each connection stored, say a 32-bit floating point
>>value (the synaptic "weight" of the connection), and there were say,
>>billion functional neurons in the brain, then you could say that the
>>brain roughly has a capacity of 4 TeraBytes (TB) of data.  And if the
>>average neuron could fire, say, 300 times per second, and you
>>one firing event to be 99 summations plus a comparison operation,
>>resulting in 100 floating-point operations, then you could say that
>>brain has a "peak operating capacity" of around 300 TeraFLOPS
>>That's some pretty serious power!  I think that's several hundred of 
>>the fastest supercomputers in existence.
>>  So, then, I suppose, based on average firing rates and connections,
>>one could come up with a third computation for "average utilization",
>>and try to show that it is 10% of the peak, but this seems to me to
>>the least likely explanation.  What's the deal?
>>David Held, Chief Programmer   "As far as the laws of mathematics
>>Business Computing Solutions    to reality, they  are not  certain;
>>email: dheld at uswest.net         as far as they are certain, they do
>>web: www.uswest.net/~dheld      refer to  reality."  -  Albert

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