The sci-fi thriller "Lucy", that released on July 25, involves the lead character, played by Scarlett Johansson, unleashing the full power of her brain. Professor Norman, portrayed by Morgan Freeman, researches what would be the consequence if humans used more than 10 per cent of their brain. The movie is based on an age-old myth that humans use only 10 per cent of their brains.
Morgan Freeman said that one hears and thinks that we use only 10 per cent of our brains and he questions if anyone has imagined what would happen if one uses more than just the 10 per cent. Another movie, "Limitless" was based on a similar concept where the lead character, Bradley Cooper, used 100 per cent of his brain.
The theory, spread by journalist Lowell Thomas, in his self-help book called How to Win Friends and Influential People. He misquoted William James, American Psychologist, by saying that James had said that an average person develops only 10 per cent of his latent mental ability. Another myth is that Einstein's intellectual gift is linked with his ability to use more than 10 per cent of the brain.
Recent developments which include the use of transcranial direct current stimulation which helps boost the mental function seems to be bringing the myth to life. A survey done by the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinsons' Research showed that 65 per cent of the people believed that humans use only 10 per cent of the brain.
Scans of the brain have shown that even in a state of rest the entire brain shows activity. The cells in the brain and those which support the brain are constantly working. Professor of neuroscience and psychology at New York University said that people are influenced by the "blobs"- the dispersed markers of high brain activity noticed during MRI of the brain. The so-called "blobs" are what people associate with their brain "lighting up."
Researchers and scientist who are involved in studying the brain are put off by movies that endorse the myth.