Sorry Morgan Freeman, You're Wrong. We Do Use All of Our Brains.

It was painful to hear Morgan Freeman's awesome voice perpetuate a commonly held science myth in the trailer for the new movie "Lucy." The premise of this film is that a young woman uses "more than 10%" of her brain and obtains superpowers. A quick Google search reveals multiple articles dispelling the myth that we only use 10% of our brains as seen here, here, here, here, and many others. Yet, despite all these attempts to educate the general public that we do in fact use all our brains, a recent poll by The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research found 65 percent of Americans still believe that people only use 10 percent of their brains! 

Like I mentioned above, there are already many articles existing which dispel this myth, but I will quickly summarize some main points.  If we did only use a small fraction of our brains, most brain injuries would not be a big deal instead of being rather traumatic. I worked in a hospital for an internship where I assessed brain injury patients and the doctor I worked for never said  "well good thing this guy got hit in the part of the brain he doesn't use!"

Now as neuroscientist who does neuroimaging research I have scanned well over 100 brains and have spent countless hours analyzing brain data despite being young in my career. In fact, much of my previous research was looking at whole brain activity during neuroimaging scans. Unsurprisingly, whole brain analysis entails analyzing activity for the entire brain! Additionally, from an evolutionary point of view, it would make zero sense to have an organ (our brain) use such a great deal of resources, but only use a small fraction of its capabilities. 

I understand that science fiction movies should not be cited as scientific fact and we are usually asked to suspend some disbelief while watching them. I am fine with this; however, I find it rather obnoxious that a major film would totally ignore the wealth of neuroscience research that disproves its premise. I understand why they would use such a premise as it does sound sexy and the majority of Americans do believe in this myth as I noted above. What mostly bothers me is that such a premise CAN be sexy in 2014. I understand how believing that we only use 10% of our brains sounds nice because of all the potential that stems from such a claim. However, it is still patently false and I'd like to see the day where that is common knowledge. We may not know if an alien race would have superpowers on our planet like Superman, but we should at least know that we use all of our brains.