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Neuroscientist Barry Beyerstein sets out seven kinds of evidence refuting the ten percent myth:
Studies of brain damage: If 90% of the brain is normally unused, then damage to these areas should not impair performance. Instead, there is almost no area of the brain that can be damaged without loss of abilities. Even slight damage to small areas of the brain can have profound effects.
Brain imaging: Technologies such as Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) allow the activity of the living brain to be monitored. They reveal that even during sleep, all parts of the brain show some level of activity. Only in the case of serious damage does a brain have "silent" areas.
Localization of function: Rather than acting as a single mass, the brain has distinct regions for different kinds of information processing. Decades of research has gone into mapping functions onto areas of the brain, and no function-less areas have been found.
Microstructural analysis: In the single-unit recording technique, researchers insert a tiny electrode into the brain to monitor the activity of a single cell. If 90% of cells were unused, then this technique would have revealed that.