OCT 01, 2018 5:27 AM PDT

Is Bigger Better?

Bigger is better, right? If you’re trying to insult someone you might call them a “pea brain” or tell them they have a “bird brain,” but as it turns out, brain size does not correlate with intelligence. The human brain, in relation our body size and that of other primates, is bigger than the brains of apes or monkeys, and it’s been steadily gaining in size over the past couple of million years. However, once humans evolved enough to know how to use stone tools, about 20,000 years ago, that growth stopped and declined by about 10%, which equals an amount of tissue about the size of a baseball. Humans are continuing to gain skills and intelligence, however, so the connection between size and knowledge isn’t there.

Research doesn’t bear it out either. In a 2015 meta-analysis (essentially a study of all the studies) when differences in brain size were compared with differences in intelligence, there was almost no connection between bigger brains and smarter people. Many studies point not to size, but to connectedness. How the brain regions communicate with each other, and how neurons parse signals across the brain is what matters and, as it happens, less is more. It’s not about how many connections there are, but rather the efficiency of a leaner more well connected set of nerve cells…quality over quantity. Neurons send signals over dendrites, small spines that protrude from the cells. The fewer dendrites there are, the more efficient the network.

About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
You May Also Like
MAR 29, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAR 29, 2020
NASA is Sending This Golden Box to Mars to Make Oxygen
NASA’s Perseverance rover, formerly known as just the Mars 2020 rover, will do quite a bit more than merely drive ...
APR 27, 2020
Space & Astronomy
APR 27, 2020
Hubble Snaps Gorgeous Photo for 30th Anniversary
The Hubble Space Telescope surpassed its 30th year in space on Friday, April 24th. Being that it’s one of the most ...
MAY 03, 2020
Plants & Animals
MAY 03, 2020
Some Snakes Only Use Venomous Bites as a Last Resort
Snakes have a bad rap with people because so many species are known to bite when disturbed. An even smaller subset of sn ...
MAY 11, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAY 11, 2020
Hear What Astronauts Think About SpaceX's Upcoming Crewed Launch
On Wednesday, May 27th, NASA will entrust commercial space company SpaceX with the coveted task of flying astronauts to ...
MAY 28, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
MAY 28, 2020
Expandable Resin Solves the Size Problem of 3D Printing
One of the current limitations of using a 3D printer is the size of the product. For someone to print a large part, they ...
MAY 31, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAY 31, 2020
Another SpaceX Starship Prototype Explodes During Testing
Incomplete Starship prototypes are a common sight if you follow SpaceX’s plethora of rocket-centric projects, but ...
Loading Comments...