Neuroscience

Mar 2010
2,346
0
PA, USA
I am amazed at how the Human brain is not differentiated by the kind of brain cells, but the amount. You see, our brains are not made of more advanced cells than those of toads and crickets... We just have more cells. This brings it from a qualitative dilemma to a quantitative one.
 
Sep 2010
456
0
The North American ruby-throated hummingbird has a brain weighing less than a gram, where as a blue whale has a 6kg brain. Yet both show a marvellous variety of behaviours. Both sing, defend territories, attract mates, raise young and migrate seasonally for long distances. The tiny-brained hummingbird also has an elaborate courtship dance, builds nests and solves some interesting pattern-recognition problems in finding flowers.

Do intelligent mammals have bigger brains?
In general yes, but only when considered as a proportion of their overall body size.
 
Sep 2010
98
0
Yes, this is an interesting fact, it denies the saying (Idk about other countries, but here we've such one) - you'r brains're smaller than chicken's. That is a pretty big humiliation around here to most of the people.

But yea, this quantity over quality is quite an interesting fact, I knew it, but never really thought about it. Guess not many people to discuss interesting things around here.
 
Dec 2008
609
0
nil
It's not about the number of neurons in the brain, it's all about the glial cells. They're the workhorses of the brain: supplying nutrients, insulating and protecting neurons, removing dead neurons and excess neurotransmitters, destroying pathogens, forming myelin, and modulate signal transmission. They are literally the glue that holds the brain together (glia is Greek for glue). Einstein's brain had an average amount of neurons and a above average number of glial cells.
 
Mar 2010
2,346
0
PA, USA
Perhaps by quoting from the book directly, it will offset my own juvenile giddiness pertaining to the subject:

There is unquestionably an enormous gulf between human and insect intelligence, so it would be reasonable to suppose that a comparison of their brains would expose how structural components reflect intelligence. Surely, the human brain should contain 'high performance' components and the insect brain markedly less sophisticated ones. But the difference between insect and human neurons does not at all betray the gulf between insect and human intelligence. Insect neurons are as complex and display as much diversity as neurons in the human cortex.

[...]Brains of the most advanced insects (honey bees) have about one million neurons, snails about 20,000, and primitive worms (nematodes) about 300. Contrast these numbers with the hundred billion or so that are required for human levels of intelligence. But the individual neurons of simple organisms operate with the very same electrical and chemical signaling machinery found in today's most advanced brains. Like it or not, the astonishing conclusion from comparative studies is that the evolution of our brains, capable of extraordinary feats, did not require the evolution of 'super neutrons.' The basic cellular components of mental functions are pretty much the same in all animals, the humble and the human.
(Michael O'Shea, The Brain: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press.)

PS
LOL Enigma, Glial cells, heh, you old softy you. :)

PPS
Thanks Enigma.
 
Jun 2009
531
0
It is most certainly not the amount of neurons that determine intelligence. Whales and elephants both have much larger brains with roughly twice as many neurons as we do. While it's true that species with a neuron volume below a certain threshold do not possess meaningful intelligence, that is not sufficient to claim that neuron volume is the main driving force of intelligence.

Aside from whatever difference in glial cells may exist (my knowledge of glial cells is abstract at best), it seems that unlike the rest of the body, it is primarily the cell structure, rather than the type of the neurons that determine function and efficiency. Presumably, because neuron functionality to a large degree revolves around growth and the mechanisms of neuron growth, the neuron's physical location relative to a connected neuron may impact functionality, as well as how the amount of neurons is distributed among the different centers (we have a much larger cerebral cortex than any other species, for instance). It is therefore from qualitatively and/or quantitatively superior brain centers that our intellectual superiority appears to arise, rather than from sheer neuron volume.
 
Mar 2010
2,346
0
PA, USA
[quote author=voodoo scientist link=topic=1635.msg12001#msg12001 date=1289656008]
It is most certainly not the amount of neurons that determine intelligence. Whales and elephants both have much larger brains with roughly twice as many neurons as we do.[/quote]
I still chuckle when I see this post. I just can't believe I didn't think of that. Oh well, neuroscience is more of a hobby for me in regards to the evolution of consciousness.

Here is an (possibly) interesting article for all you brain people out there:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/28/science/28brain.html
 
Mar 2010
2,346
0
PA, USA
Mar 2010
2,346
0
PA, USA
Charting Brain Growth in Humans and Chimps
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/16/science/16obchimp.html

"Although baby humans and baby chimpanzees both start out with undeveloped forebrains, a new study reports that the human brain increases in volume much more rapidly early on. "

"Dr. Al Richards says, 'Monkeys are like harry little people!! And always funny. Always'"