The claim about humans using only 10% of their brain capacity has long been debunked.

In fact, most parts of our brains are active almost all the time. It has been confirmed thanks to neuroimaging technologies, including positron emission tomography (PET) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which make it possible to monitor the activity of the living brain.

However, does it mean that we cannot make more of our brains? Science doesn’t give a solid answer to this question simply because it still has a very poor understanding of how the human brain works and what it is actually capable of.

The only certain thing is that the brain is a very flexible organ, whose structure and organization can be influenced by external factors and altered through a number of activities.

Neurogenesis

Until recently, it was believed that the formation of new brain cells is simply impossible. The prevailing scientific view was that a person is born with a particular number of neurons, or brain cells, which only decreases with age.

In the 1970s, American researcher Michael Kaplan was conducting experiments on mice, in which some had stimulating toys and exercises in their cages, and others did not. As a result, Kaplan found that the animals that were involved in cognitive tasks demonstrated increased brain cell growth and enhanced activity in their mature neurons.

Moreover, Kaplan concluded that the mechanism of neurogenesis, or the formation of new brain cells, was based on stem cells turning into brain cells, not the mature neurons replicating. This type of cells remains in the human brain for a lifetime, which means that it is possible to grow new neurons at any age.

A study conducted in 2010 in Harvard Medical School showed that mindfulness meditation rebuilds the brain, increasing grey matter in the hippocampus, a brain region which plays an important role in learning and memory processing, and other brain areas involved in self-awareness and introspection.

Another study at the University of Zurich in Switzerland confirmed that performing altruistic acts can change your brain. The research team conducted the experiment using 30 volunteers and two games, during which the participants were asked to decide how much money they would give one another.

It was found that the grey matter in the right side of their temporoparietal junction was unusually large. The researchers concluded that people who are kind and perform altruistic acts actually have more developed brain regions and grey matter than those who do not.

These are only some of the studies that confirm the fact that even a mature brain can grow new neurons and that it can be induced by performing cognitive tasks, such as learning and problem solving, and other brain-enhancing activities, including meditation, yoga and aerobic exercises.

Neuroplasticity

However, brain function is based not only on the brain cells but also on the connections between them, called synapses. Even if we imagine that we only have a fixed number of brain cells, do you think that we use the same pathways between them throughout our lives?

These pathways are the key to intelligence, creativity, and innovative thinking. Scientists give birth to new radical theories, entrepreneurs come up with pioneering business ideas and artists create mind-boggling masterpieces because their neurons are arranged and wired in a certain way, and their neural connections are stronger in particular brain regions. The stronger our synapses are, the better our brain works, and the more productive and creative we are.

Here comes the concept called neuroplasticity, which is the ability of the brain to reorganize neural pathways based on new experiences. This amazing ability not only affects our development and cognitive functions but can even help recover from a grave brain injury.

Dr. Yaffe and her colleagues of the University of California studied risks of Alzheimer’s disease by measuring the protein beta-amyloid levels in the blood. The results showed that the cognitive decline was more significant when there was more beta-amyloid in the blood, but lifestyle factors can affect this tendency. In particular, people with higher cognitive reserve (education, literacy) tend to have fewer chances to experience a cognitive decline.

Dr. Matthew Bambling of the University of Queensland, Australia, believes that learning new things stimulates the brain and encourages it to rewire itself and change throughout life. By learning new activities, our brain can develop new neural connections and thus alter its physical structure.

The brain is a remarkably flexible and dynamic organ responding structurally to everything we do, the old adage ‘use it or lose it’ might never be truer than for the brain,” he says.

Conclusions

The human brain is a wonderful organ and still hides a lot of mysteries to be unlocked. Maybe one day, neuroscience will explain incredible superpowers of the human brain, such as photographic memory or the ability to solve complex math problems in the head (remember Daniel Tammet, “human-calculator” from the UK?), and will find the key to unravelling its potential.

Perhaps, it is impossible to move objects with your mind or change form by manipulating the cells of your body, like Lucy in the recent Luc Besson’s sci-fi movie did (or maybe it is, who knows?), but it is certain that you can enhance your abilities and boost your brain power.

Stimulate your brain function – learn, read, meditate – and you will see that soon you will get miraculous results.

Anna LeMind, B.A.

Copyright © 2012-2021 Learning Mind. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint, contact us.

the power of misfits

This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Praveen

    In-depth article that clearly elucidates the power of brain scientifically.

  2. Avatar
    cejay prado

    i want to learn

  3. Avatar
    Ronaldo Rosario

    It is of interest unlocking the power of the brain. But how?

  4. Avatar
    Tory Glenn

    I’m a bit puzzled by a comment in this article that says “…cognitive decline was more significant when there was less beta-amyloid in the blood….”

    This is the exact opposite of what I’ve read in other articles that indicated a high level of beta amyloid in the brain has shown to be contributing factor in Alzheimer’s disease because they contribute to the plaque that is characteristic of Alzheimer’s.

    Please see the following article:

    https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2013/09/scientists-reveal-how-beta-amyloid-may-cause-alzheimers.html

    So, your article should really say that “cognitive decline was more significant when there was more beta-amyloid (in the brain).

    1. Avatar
      Anna LeMind

      thank you Tory, I just corrected that

  5. Avatar
    valentin cannings

    when u blank you mind things come in to it so you have to be able to blank your mind(bet you can not blank your mind for ten sec that shows u how much subliminal are in your mind) once u can do this u can start trying to do it for longer then u can put one thing your thinking about in to it and magnify it in your brain then u will have the power to attract that fast your brain is muscle you cant sit on your ass for 6 months and get up and run the mind is the same you have to train it

  6. Avatar
    Keion DaSilva

    I am from Guyana South America
    And as I was browsing the internet because I am a upcoming artist I realised changes in my brain capabilities that I didn’t understand so this helped alot
    Being that people over here don’t focus on changes of the brain, its more religion

  7. Avatar
    damith madushanka

    if you want to control and use your mind better ? you can learn buddhism to get awesome result. dont forget this : it’s not a religion ,it is aphilosophy and i’m not a aphilosopher. (sorry for bad english)

  8. Avatar
    Alec

    Our government has a bug that can crawl into your ear and make its way to the back of your brain. This then connects your brain to the machine under their control that will literally change lives. It controls blood flow all the way to twitching your eye lids. Largest story we have to date and I’m ready to share with the rest of us.

  9. Avatar
    madura

    thank you

  10. Avatar
    Arun

    Ancient India’s Yogis and saints had already unlocked the full potential of their brain hence they gave the world The Vedas..
    They are already knew the distance of planets and stars without any modern scientific tools, They knew how to extract metal from it’s crude form etc.
    They had complete control of their brain..

  11. Avatar
    Johnathon Perdicaris

    You know that there was a movie about the debunked myth about humans unlocking all of the mind. Lucy is the movie I am talking about. In the movie she according to the doctors has unlocked parts of her mind that no other human has ever done and can do things that no one else can.

  12. Avatar
    Erik Westberg

    Hi I’m being serious when I say that the only reason I read this was because I’ve tapped into something in my own brain and am doing research. At first I thought things were just getting easier or it was because of a new found confidence I’ve gained. So far what I’ve learned is that the confidence is just a biproduct and is very useful in understanding what’s been happening to me. It seems like everything that I’ve herd in the past about neuroplasticity and other things that I for some reason remembered not even knowing what they were come together. The last couple hours I’ve been thinking and everything that you have said is what I came up with. Can anyone explain that? There are other parts that I’m tapping into with ease now. As if it’s unlocked. I mean it’s not like the movie lucy but in a way it kind of is. I’m figuring out things very quickly about the roles emotions play in our learning process and than researching online to find that my results are exact in most case. The ones that are not exact usually say that it will very from person to person or there’s not enough evidence. I’m a 39 year old man that just got his GED in prison and was changing my life. I did so very quickly to the average person or everyone who watched. I’ve always been a very driven and focused person so going from having nothing to looking like a well off, someone who has everything together in just 6 weeks was actually easy and normal for me. I guess what I’m asking is what would you do next if you were me. I understand how I got here I’ve traced the steps and it was unreal how easy it was. I feel or actually know that if I try to tell anyone there not going to believe me or I’m going to come off as better than them. There are so many other things that contribute to what I’m calling it “figuring out who I really am” and I have so to share. I know this is not some fluke. I’ve always been a thinker and will try rationalize any uncommon situation. I’ve tried and this was the end result. I know this would help a lot of people with p.t.s.d and anxiety problems if they got to this spot I’m at. But who do I tell that I can trust? This was the most typing I’ve done in years so hopefully your still responding. Ask me questions and you’ll see something has opened. My e-mail is [email protected] send me a message when you read this so I wont keep looking here for a response. Thank you for listening.

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