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How to use 100 percent of your Brain

Updated on February 10, 2011

How to use 100% of your brain

It's easier than you think. You are already doing it.

Contrary to the popular myth that human beings use only a small percentage of their brain, let's say 10%, the truth is all of the human brain is used at one time or another.

If you came here to learn how to harness the power of the 90 percent of your brain that you are probably not using, you must be really disappointed right now. Don't fret. I have pretty interesting things to say about the human brain. Know your brain!

For one thing, a recent paper by Peter Lennie of the New York University Center for Neural Science suggests that the brain should have a maximum of 3% of its neurons firing at any one time, otherwise the energy required to reset each neuron after it goes inactive becomes simply too much for your brain to handle.

The make-up of the Central Nervous System (CNS)

The central nervous system of a human being is made up of the brain and the spinal cord. It consists of two types of cells: glia and neurons.


Neurons are used for processing information. They are receiving input and sending output between one another all the time. Input checks in through the branch-like dendrites of the neuron, output checks out through the cable-like axons.

Dendrites and Axons

Surprisingly, each neuron has up to 10,000 dendrites, and only a single axon. This axon is usually thousands of times longer than the neuron's microscopic cell body. The biggest axon in a giraffe is about 15 ft long.


The junctions between axons and dendrites are called synapses. These are the places where electrical impulses are transformed into chemical signals. Synapses are like tiny switches, connecting neurons to one another and turning the brain into a huge network.

Glia or Glial cells

Glial cells constitute the structural framework of the brain; they manage the neurons and keep the house clean by removing debris after neurons die. Glial cells are fifty times more numerous than neurons in the brain.

Brain Network

A single human brain is made up of about 3 million miles of axons, 1 quadrillion (1,000,000,000,000,000) synapses, and as much as 200 billion neurons. The neurons spread out side by side would cover the size of 4 football fields.

Human Brain. Click to enlarge.
Human Brain. Click to enlarge.

Parts of the Human Brain

  1. Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC): used to weigh options and make decisions. It’s responsible for worrying, and is bigger in women than in men.
  2. Prefrontal Cortex (PFC): rules feelings and emotions and keeps them at bay. PFC puts the brakes on the instinctual amygdala and is bigger in women than in men. It also matures faster in teen girls than in boys by one to two years.
  3. Insula: used to process gut feelings. Insula is larger and more active in females.
  4. Hypothalamus: conducts the production and distribution of hormones. It starts pumping earlier at puberty in women.
  5. Amygdala: our instinctual center - the beast within. Larger in men and is tamed only by the Prefrontal Cortex.
  6. Pituitary Gland: responsible for the production of fertility hormones, milk and nurturing behavior. The center for turning on the mommy brain.
  7. Hippocampus: the elephant that never forgets a romantic encounter, a tender moment or a fight, for that matter. Bigger and more active in females.

Brain Anatomy and Functions Video

Brain FAQ

What color is the brain?

As long as we are alive, our brain is pink with its color coming from the blood vessels. When the brain is dead, it appears gray.

Around 40% of the living brain is made of gray matter and 60% of white matter, but these are not descriptions of the colors of different areas.

What are gray and white matter used for?

Gray matter uses almost 95% of the oxygen consumption of the brain, as this is the area where the actual information processing is done.

White matter is made of a fatty protein called myelin. It sheathes and insulates the highways of communication inside the brain. It links different parts of the gray matter together.

Venus vs. Mars in terms of brain differences?

Recent studies at the Universities of California and New Mexico showed that men had 6 1/2 times more gray matter than women, while women had 10 times more white matter than men.

The women were found to have white matter in a high concentration in the frontal lobes (center for emotion control and judgment), wherein the men had none.

Men’s and women’s brains are very differently wired, but the output of intelligence is the same.

Does alcohol kill brain cells?

Contrary to popular belief, alcohol consumption does not kill brain cells. It makes new cells grow more slowly.

The temperance campaigners of the early 19th century wanted
all alcoholic beverages banned, so they made up a scientific fact: alcohol kills brain cells.

How does alcohol affect brain cells?

A recent research found that samples from alcoholics and non-alcoholics showed little to no difference in the overall number or the density of neurons between the two groups. A study in Sweden even disclosed that more brain cells are grown in mice that are given moderate amounts of alcohol.

The serious damage caused by alcohol abuse, including damage to the brain, does not stem from the death of brain cells, it is more probable that alcohol abuse doesn't agree with the information processing of the brain.

What is the cause of hangover?

Hangover is caused by the shrinking of the brain due to dehydration. Dehydration causes the brain to tug on its covering membrane, and the membrane becomes sore. The brain has no pain receptors, so it feels nothing, even if you stick a knife in it.

Does alien alcohol exist?

According to a recent astronomical discovery, there is a decent amount of alcohol in our region of the Milky Way. This giant cloud of methanol has a diameter of about 300 billion miles.

Methanol is not ethyl alcohol, therefore it is not consumable by humans. This fact and the cloud's existence suggest that it's for the consumption of some other life-form. This, in turn, suggests that we are not alone.

There are more ways to exchange information in the human brain than the number of atoms in the whole universe. This is the potential that we carry, so whatever percentage of our brains we actually use and however we do it, there is clearly room for improvement.


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