APR 21, 2016 2:07 PM PDT

Insect Brains: Size Does Not Equal Complexity

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

When Swedish botanist and zoologist Carl Linnaeus set out to classify all living things, he assumed that insects didn't have brains. It's not hard to understand where he was coming from. Insects are tiny and seemingly incapable of complex thought. Furthermore, some insects can survive and function even after it's been decapitated - evidence for Linnaeus that brains aren't essential for these small critters.

But tiny as they are, insects do have brains, and these organs are actually capable of some impressive feats. Insects rely on their brains to choose mates, communicate, and remember locations of food sources and hives, among many other survival processes. And insects can do all this with a brain about the size of pin with about one million neurons. For reference, the human brain is about 3 pounds and contains over 86 billion neurons. Watch the video to learn more about how insects use their brains, and why engineers are so interested in this topic!
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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