OK, concentrate: How much of your brain are you using right now—or at any moment in time?
If you said 10%, you’ve repeated a popular, but inaccurate, myth.
The origin of the tale is murky but might be rooted in an outdated theory about the structure of the brain that was repeated in a bestselling self-help book more than 80 years ago.
Today, the trope is still trotted out in cartoons, books and movies.
In the 2014 thriller “Lucy,” a scientist repeats the 10% claim while speculating about the promise of accessing a larger portion of the mind. The 2011 film “Limitless,” about a struggling writer, pegs the fraction at a slightly more encouraging 20%. And the 1991 comedy “Defending Your Life,” about a deceased man’s efforts to prove his worth in the afterlife, lowers it to a demoralizing 3% to 5%.
Sorry, Hollywood. Science doesn’t buy it.