Do we really only use 10 percent of our brains?

Yesterday, I discussed how mainstream doctors rely far too heavily on the results of a single, arbitrary brain scan or test to make a determination about a patient’s cognitive health.

But what really matters are the outward signs of how well the brain is working. That’s why cognitive testing is so important.

So, today, let’s discuss four more misconceptions about the brain, starting with the most-common myth I’ve probably heard tossed around over the years…

Four common fallacies about brain health

1.) You only use 10 percent of your brain. As I also explained yesterday, human infants have smaller heads (and brains) to allow for birth through the narrow female pelvis (designed for upright walking). As a result, human infants and children have a much longer period of dependency compared to any other species on the planet.

Of course, as humans grow, so does their brain and brain power. So, from an evolutionary perspective, it begs the question…

Why would humans start with small brains—which clearly makes them more vulnerable and dependent—only to grow later into bigger brains…if all that extra brain matter wasn’t vital, useful, and important?

Well, as I learned during my anthropology studies for my Ph.D., there are no “mistakes” in human development. Which means there’s a reason why our brains grow bigger—and it’s not just to create empty, wasted, unused brain space.

Granted, the human body does engineer some redundancy into other organ systems. For example, you can get along with less than one kidney, less than one lung, and only part of your liver or thyroid.

But that principle does not hold true for the brain. In fact, just consider how devastating even a minor brain injury can be. On the other hand, if we really only used 10 percent of our brain, it would make any kind of brain damage a lot less problematic!

Indeed, all parts of the brain are critical to thinking, moving, and processing. And even though there are different areas of the brain for different functions, like speech, vision, smell, and movement, brain imaging scans demonstrate that the entire brain is still engaged during simple, specialized tasks, such as speech.

2.) We only have five senses. In grammar school, you probably learned that humans have five senses: sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing. But there are actually quite a few more important senses that the brain processes…

For example, the sense of proprioception tells you where your body parts are in space and in regards to Earth’s gravity. Along with your visual sense and your inner ear, the sense of proprioception helps with balance and allows you to stand upright and walk.

(In fact, your body can actually stand upright using just two of those three forms of input. Which means if your brain is processing proprioception signals from the body and your inner ear is working, you can still stand upright with your eyes closed [or in the pitch black].)

There are also the sensations of temperature, thirst, and hunger…as well as the sensation called conception, which acutely senses the passage of time. (Thankfully, animals are blessed to process time differently.)

I’ve always thought that humans developed these more sophisticated senses because, compared to other animals, our olfactory glands are further away from the ground. And we must rely more heavily on the other senses to make our way in the world.

Still, since the human olfactory organ remains the only sense that is wired directly into the brain, it remains powerful for sensing taste and triggering memory.

3.) Hand dominance determines how you think. Handedness does have its root in the brain. For example, right-handed people are said to have left-hemisphere-dominant brains. And the left hemisphere is where people express and understand language.

On the flip side, lefties are said to have right-hemisphere-dominant brains. And the right hemisphere is where people experience spatial abilities and emotional expression.

But modern brain scan imaging studies show that hand dominance really doesn’t apply to higher level thinking. In fact, the two sides of the brain (anatomically connected by the corpus callosum) typically work together for complex cognitive processing.

4.) Older brains can’t learn new things. Most people seem to accept some memory decline is a normal part of aging. Which probably explains the old saying, “I’ve forgotten more things than you ever knew!”

They also seem to think older people can’t learn new skills.

But that’s complete bunk.

As I explained yesterday, more modern studies show memory loss in not an unavoidable part of aging! It also shows that learning can continue to take place at any age…it just may take a little longer. Plus, as you get older, your social skills improve—allowing you to better deal with conflicts, strong emotions, and stress.

To help boost your brain health as you get older, make sure to regularly participate in new, stimulating activities—like mastering new skills, trying new hobbies or recreational activities, and meeting new people.

Of course, depending on where you reside, it can be hard to meet new people. (Especially now, as we continue to socially isolate.) In fact, a decade ago, during the last economic downturn, we achieved a lifelong dream and bought a summer place near where I grew up in New England. It’s along an isolated stretch of shoreline, surrounded by ocean and wetlands on three sides.

Our nearest neighbor there recounted (and has often repeated) a story about an old Yankee whose new neighbors knocked on his door to introduce themselves. The Yankee responded, “Saw-ray, we already got all the friends we need,” and closed the door on them. (Social distancing and isolation works well in New England, where they’ve been practicing it for 400 years now!)

Fortunately, where we now reside most of the year in Florida, it’s a lot easier to meet new people and make new friends. Hopefully, you, too, live in a place where it’s not difficult to stay socially engaged—even during the corona-crisis.

Of course, there are dozens of other drug-free, cutting-edge approaches to supporting  brain health. And I outline them all in my Complete Alzheimer’s Fighting Protocol. To learn more about this comprehensive online learning tool or to enroll today, simply click here now!


“Sanjay Gupta’s Prescription for Brain Health,” AARP Magazine, April/May 2020. (