Urban myth ‘we only use 10% of our brain,’ Bruce Lipton’s response updated

Bruce Dickson
7 min readDec 26, 2022

Non-authorized revision of the Youtube transcript of a video, “Using 100% of Your Brain — Dr. Bruce H. Lipton” (2005). Transcript has been reduced, revised, and adapted to update-expand BL’s ideas.

Original video and transcript are here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZNi68xVDWU

Hi dear friends, cultural creatives and imaginal cells everywhere. In this month’s newsletter I want to focus on a common urban myth, the urban myth we only operate off of 10% of our brain.

We’ve all heard how we’re only using 10% of our brain. Boy, if we could use all the rest of it, we’d be super smart; but hey, we’re stuck with using only 10%.

First, where did this 10% myth come from? Decades ago when putting the body together through an understanding of histology, the cells making up organs. A study of the brain revealed a new perspective: only 10% of the brain was made up of neurons. 90% of brain cells were not neurons.

The “wasted” 90% of our brain was given the name “glial cells.” They were conceived of as support cells, supporting brain structure or brain nutrition. They were believed not to be the cells we think with.

Over the years, this became “the neuron doctrine,” a belief our neurons were the functional cells of the brain; while, glial cells were more or less just physical and nutritional support cells. To mostly male researchers, this suggested, “we only use 10% of our brain.” This is how an urban legend among researchers became a myth believed by millions for decades.

Then what happened? In recent decades, we started to learn we misunderstood glial cells. Little by little, we learned how glial cells are a lot more important and neural-functional. They do more than support the brain’s physical and nutritional needs.

“Glial cells (or neuroglial cells) have a structural role within our central nervous system. They regulate nerve firing rates, brain plasticity (guiding early brain development), and immune responses” ~ https://www.physio-pedia.com/Glial_Cells

Glial cells can inhibit or activate neurons. Glial cells connect to neurons and regulate the activity of neurons. All of a sudden, glial cells which we believed were only passive brain cells, turn out to be actually quite functional and significant for integrating brain and immune functions.

How our thinking about brain cells changed can be analogized to how we form complete sentences. If neurons are the nouns in a sentence; then, glial cells are the verbs, adjectives, adverbs and modifiers of the nouns. In this way, only with the glial cells can a complete sentence be constructed. Only with the glial cells can a complete picture of brain function be conceived. Neurons alone by themselves are like just a list of nouns; or, only a stick figure drawing of a person. The whole context is missing and crucial. When you add the glial cells, a more full picture of whole brain functioning comes to light.

It turns our when we include the glial cells in conceiving of whole brain activity, we’re no longer dealing with just 10% of brain cells. We’re dealing with a 100% of the brain.

Q: While I’m awake, if I have access to 100% of my brain all of the time, does this mean I use 100% of my brain all of the time?

A: The answer is no. Why? When we are awake, we respond to life by re-playing, many learned habitual behaviors (habits). For example, if you ask me a question in English, I can respond to you in English. The English I use is mostly memorized words, phrases and constructions. If I didn’t have these in memory, if you asked me a question in English, I would have to pantomime how I need to go learn English again every day before I can respond to you.

It’s not only language which is primarily a function of learned words, phrases and constructions committed to memory. We have learned behaviors, conditioned in our memory, ready to repeat, on at least five levels, physical, imaginal, emotional, mental and mythological.

We do not need ALL learned behaviors expressing all the time. For each person and circumstance we respond to, we pick and choose which learned patterns, habits, memories, on which levels are useful and appropriate to express. Our most-used responses to people and circumstances become our habitual response pathways. In our brain, by frequent repetition and habitual use, these most-used responses are myelinated, strengthened physiologically, made more durable and accessible as ready responses.

Q: So how we think about our brain has changed. How does this affect me?

A: It means contrary to the old, “We only use 10% of our brain” myth, you have great capacity and ability to wake-up and switch-on more of your brain, for whatever creative projects and problem solving is at hand. You are less limited in your choices and awareness than was taught for many decades.

What are the most efficient methods to wake up and switch-on our brain? In order of effectiveness for the greatest number of people, these seem to be:

- BAVX ball bouncing. More appropriate for beginners of all ages. See “Bal-A-Vis X Demonstrations” — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQfttMeuAPw

If started young, tweens may wish to progress to…

- Waldorf copper rods exercises. Both BAVX and rods employ movement and auditory rhythm to wake up peripheral vision. Thru practice users can feel what it’s like to have more of their own brain switched on. See 40 minute video showing the full range of rod exercises “COPPER RODS ACTIVITIES FOR WALDORF SCHOOLS” [2022, Jeff Tunkey] — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSs9CBrhYds

- For those more attracted to:

- psychology,

- internal dialogue,

- methods of self-connection,

- acknowledging unresolved mental-emotional disturbances,

- listening to our needful internal parts…

…then, Internal Family Systems (IFS) is our current Best Practice method for unburdening internal parts as needed. [In 2022 IFS can replace Bruce Lipton’s 1980s recommended method of Psych-K].

- While not as effective for as many people as BAVX ball bouncing and Waldorf copper rod exercises, Brain Gym exercises definitely benefit some children and some adults. Research into why some people are benefited and others are not, is still in process.

Make one more healthy choice today than yesterday

Up to 95% of our waking behavior each day derives from re-playing recorded memory patterns of learned behavior (habits). What is the remaining 5%? It is our capacity to make new, conscious and deliberate choices as needed in our daily life.

What kind of choices? All kinds — especially making new healthy choices; then, performing them consistently until they become new UNconscious habits:

- to initiate,

- begin practicing,

- tracking our practice progress in writing, how many days in a row can I repeat my new chosen behavior, until it becomes a new habit in my repertoire of healthy responses to life and people?

This is our most powerful tool for waking up.

I wonder, where might you need to make a new choice in your life? What would make you initiate and commit to this? By what method could you track how many days in a row you can repeat the new behavior pattern?

Q: How long does it take most people to replace an old a bit patten with a new habit patterns?

A: A good rule of thumb comes from the educator John-Roger: 32 days, approximately one moon cycle. If you can repeat your new chosen behavior for 32 days in a row, you chances of making it a new habit in your Habit Body are very good.

The more we actualize our capacity to make new healthy choices, the easier it is to do. This is the easy way to make our own life and the world more wonderful. PS: It helps to do this with ‘God as our Partner’ so you feel less alone and more supported in your quest.

What does all-switched-on feel like?

Switched-on is basically the opposite feeling from shameful separation.

When an individual activates their whole neurology, right and left hemisphere neurologies flowing equally, this feels less isolated, less separated, less shameful and more expansive. Conversely flowing only one- half of your neurology at a time in isolation, feels like shameful separation.

When our neural impulses flow equally well between the pathways determined by our two hemispheres, our two neurology flows can work rhythmically in alternation, like cooperative teammates. This was Nature’s goal all along. We actualize this by performing the needed variety of physical movements, at the appropriate developmental ages. A big literature exists on this, too much to go into here.

Switched-on whole-brain is NOT super-learning”

Q: Is our neurology flowing thru both hemispheres a kind of “super learning”?

A: No. When our nerve energy flows easily thru our two neurologies, we are at normal, natural, healthy learning. When our neuro-impulses flow thru only one hemisphere at a time in isolation (parallel processing), this is sub-natural, sub-normal learning. When our two neurologies weave together rhythmically, we have optimal neural function.

When you use your full nervous system, your full neurology, it supports your life and enhances your growth. This is what’s healthy. Don’t get stuck int eh myth, “I’m only using 10% of my brain.” That story is false. You can use a hundred percent of what is available to you.

Basically all you have to understand is: stay conscious, stay mindful; stop re-playing old patterns no longer workable for you. When you stop playing old recordings in memory, opportunity to initiate new healthy behaviors opens up.