Steel Notes Magazine November 2016 Alessia Bastianelli – Italy Venice 11.7.2016 Be smart! Use your brain! Today, I happened to read about the theory that we use only a small part of our brains, approximately 10%, whereas if we could make use of all its resources, we could have unimaginable capacity. According to this theory, if we learn to use the other parts of the brain, which are technically inactive, we could take remarkable advantage of both reasoning and our thoughts. But that’s not all: We could even benefit from skills such as telekinesis (the capacity to move objects with thought) or extrasensorial perceptions. Some have attributed this theory to Einstein; others trace this proposal to the theory of “energy reserve,” proposed between the late 1800s and the beginning of the last century by two Harvard psychologists, William James and Boris Sidis. The story goes that they based their idea on observing Sidis’s child, who had impressive math skills and a fairly high IQ— in other words, a gifted child. Based on this experience, William James wrote in his 1908 book The Energies of Men, “We are making use of only a small part of our possible mental and physical resources.” It seems that this claim was revived by writer Dale Carnegie in his essay “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” mistakenly attributing to James the precise percentage value of 10%. Although our intellectual capacity can grow throughout life—through education, hobbies, work, or just everyday life—the myth that we use only 10% of our potential is lacking scientific evidence. Neuroscience has shown several times, with irrefutable evidence, that it is not plausible that 90% of our brain is not being used. First, if we didn’t use our brain 72 Steel Notes Magazine www.steelnotesmagazine.com cells, they would tend to atrophy, as happens with all the other parts of the human body. This is what occurs, for example, when someone is affected by a stroke (i.e., when a more or less extensive area of the brain is deprived of blood flow and, therefore, oxygen, resulting in consequential damage, often irreparable). In addition, although some aspects of the functioning of the human brain are still poorly understood, scientists agree on the fact that the brain can be divided into different areas. Decades of research through neuroimaging procedures (functional magnetic resonance imaging or positron emission tomography) have allowed us to obtain a complete mapping of the brain. To each of the areas scientists have attributed precise functions (language, movement, thinking, memory, etc.). They have observed that damage to a specific area of the brain produces damage to the associated function. Thus, clinical case studies have shown that, when damaged, even very small areas of the brain (for example, following a stroke) can cause serious defects.