Sounds pathetic? Well, every new idea has sounded pathetic in the beginning.

Dr.Vivek Nalgirkar

3/10/2022 2 min read

Recently I saw the movie – ‘Lucy’. The premise of the movie was that the humans ordinarily (or let’s say, maximally) utilize only up to 10% or so of their cerebral capacity. (Dolphins are known to use up to 20%.) And, what is likely to happen if a human being starts using 20%, 30%, 40%, or eventually 100%.

In the movie, the protagonist Lucy’s cerebral capacity gets unlocked accidentally (and artificially). As she is being used as a mule for export of some synthetic drug, the drug mixes in her blood stream.

The question that kept bothering me since then – “is it physiologically (or naturally) possible to try and utilize more and more capacity of the brain?” Also, ‘is it our stage of evolution that’s making us use only 10% at present? With further evolution, is it going to increase?’

As per the theory of evolution, the body part that is not in much use tends to slowly regress and disappear. The part that is used to a great extent should evolve further, by the logic of evolution. Thus, it is possible that a few thousand years from now, a more evolved human brain may be able to perform such things which are unthinkable at present. For instance, telekinesis, teleportation, and telepathy.

However, more fundamental question is – “Why is it that the humans use mostly about 10% of their brain’s capacity?” The answer partly lies in the training, learning, or conditioning.

Two physiological facts are noteworthy in this context – 1. The human cortex discards more than 95% of the sensory experiences, considering them to be non-useful to the given situation. For instance, if one is sitting in a lecture, then the sensory inputs other than those of the lecture (such as, extraneous sounds, visual inputs, pressure of the seats, etc) are discarded even if they reach the cortex. The imprints of such sensory experiences are erased. We are conditioned to ignore all such information. What if, instead, we learn to capture and store all the sensory inputs around us? Of course, it will be at the cost of focus and sharpness of the brain’s functioning.

2. The second physiological fact is - The sensory receptors at the peripheral parts display a property of ‘adaptation’. That is, the unimportant and un-useful sensory stimuli are stopped from being converted into ‘signals for brain’. Most such sensory information is stopped at the periphery, to avoid extra and un-necessary burdening of the cortex; the information is deemed to be un-important. (We don’t feel the touch of our clothes, though the touch stimulus is continuously present.) What if this property of ‘receptor adaptation’ abolished? Every sensory information is sent to the cortex. And, if cortex is already capturing it and consolidating it, then over a period of time, we might start using more and more of our actual cerebral capacity. In fact, our brain will be compelled to form more and more synapses to store the information and utilize it appropriately. Brain size will increase; cranial vault size will increase.

Sounds pathetic? Well, every new idea has sounded pathetic in the beginning.