the brain

Richard L. Hall rhall at webmail.uvi.edu
Sat Feb 26 08:32:27 EST 2000

This is an old, but resilient topic.  Regardless, it is an 
interesting intellectual exercise.

Actually normal humans use all of the brain, but not all at once.

Analysis of oxygen consumption and EEG (electroencephalograms), 
studies of lesions abnormal brains pretty much support the idea that 
there are no unused areas.  Some lesions produce minimal or no 
obvious deficits but that can be explained by the extreme redundancy 
of brain architecture (duplication of function).  "If something is 
really important, keep a spare."  Some areas have higher levels of 
activity when listening, seeing, moving, thinking and visualizing, 
but there are no dead spots.  Realize also that high levels of 
activity are not always productive activity (witness epileptic 
seizures) and while some areas appear to be the focus of activity, 
the surrounding and perhaps distant areas may provide critical 
information necessary for that activity.

Realize also that mammals have evolved large complicated brains 
within the confines of a very hard, strong cranial vault.  The 
involutions (folds) of the cerebral cortex illustrate the extremes to 
which our brains are packed into the neurocranium.  Do you think 
evolution or god would toss in a few bricks the expense of essential 
and delicate neural circuits?  I study neural circuits and there is 
very little room for sloppy techniques because damaging one or two 
cells totally disrupts the circuit function.

The real question is:  Do we use our brains intelligently and 
productively?  Intelligence is not well understood.  We realize that 
the more connectivity between neurons, the more information can be 
processed, but numbers can be deceiving because poorly organized 
circuits and connections cannot be as efficient or powerful as well 
organized circuits.  As to productivity...I guess that depends on how 
one wishes to spend their days.


>I, and a bunch of friends were wondering what percentage of the brain does
>the average human utilize.  we are debating in between 8% and 20%.  Pleas
>email me back with the results of the average percentage of use from the
>human brain.
>Thank You.

Richard L. Hall, Ph.D.
Comparative Animal Physiologist

University of the Virgin Islands
2 John Brewers Bay
St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. 00802

340-693-1385 FAX

rhall at uvi.edu

"Live life on the edge...the view is always better"  rlh


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