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brain usage capacity

F. Frank LeFever flefever at ix.netcom.com
Tue Apr 13 19:40:25 EST 1999

In <3712da30.51644686 at newshost.cc.utexas.edu> enkidu at mail.utexas.edu
(Michael A. G. Cohn) writes: 
>I recall it was "antoine" <antoine at ifu.net> who said:
>>I am looking for any info on justifying the fact that we use less
than 1%
>>(or some other small percent).
>>How did the neuro-scientists came up with this number?
>The refutations posted here are correct. I'd like to contribute
>another possible origin for this myth:
>90-99% of the brain's cells are glial cells. These are "support" cells
>which handle synthesis, housecleaning, and structural functions for
>the neurons. Perhaps someone heard that the vast majority of the brain
>isn't involved in thought, and concluded that it could be but just
>	- Michael Cohn

Of course, this conclusion would be based on a rather antique concept
of glial cells (unfortunately still held by some--e.g. a physiatrist
speaking at a brain injury conference I attended last year).

Was it perhaps Lashley who (facetiously) suggested that the corpus
callosum was simply a means of mechanical support for those soft,
floppy cerebral hemispheres?

The "support" functions of the glia (mechanical support suggested
early? vegetative/metabolic suggested later?) apparently involve them
intimately with neural function on a moment to moment basis (e.g.
uptake of excess glutamate), so why discriminate against their
modulation of neural activity?  Much of the activity of neurons can be
thought of as "just" modulating activity of other neurons, and (to make
a leap of faith, given our present level of understanding) presumably
all of this is "involved in thought".

F. Frank LeFever, Ph.D.
New York Neuropsychology Group

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