Notices
Results 1 to 14 of 14

Thread: IS BIGGER, ALWAYS BETTER ?

  1. #1 IS BIGGER, ALWAYS BETTER ? 
    Forum Sophomore
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    103
    Hi, is there a true correlation between brain size and intelligence ?

    From the limited reading I have done it appears that brain size has something to do with intelligence. OR, should I say, level of intelligence depends on the size of the brain ? Is this true ?

    BARCUD


    Reply With Quote  
     

  2.  
     

  3. #2  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Cardiff, Wales
    Posts
    5,760
    in a very broad sense, yes - although brain organisation may play a role + the range (even within modern humans) is quite large

    so on an individual basis prediction of intelligence from brain size doesn't quite work : see the following link where it says that :

    The brain size of recognized "geniuses" can vary from 1000 cc to 2000 cc in modern humans.


    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
    Reply With Quote  
     

  4. #3  
    Forum Senior Booms's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    The perceptual schematic known as earth
    Posts
    361
    Short answer yes long answer no



    Yeah, whales have the largest animal brain (no duh) and are also one of the most intelligent animals



    and no, Humans are not the biggest brains around by far and yet we are phenominally intelligent, another example of no brain-smarts correlation is in the 90's a boy who achieved top of his class, got A's and whatnot was discovered to have nothing in his head, no brain!, he had a strand of cerrebrial tissue and the rest of his skull was full of cerebral fluid, somehow the fluid was controlling his basic funtions and that little string of brain tissue got him to top of the class
    It's not how many questions you ask, but the answers you get - Booms

    This is the Acadamy of Science! we don't need to 'prove' anything!
    Reply With Quote  
     

  5. #4  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard paralith's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    2,190
    Increasing absolute brain size does not increase intelligence. Bigger bodies simply need bigger brains in order to control them. It is an increase in relative brain size to body size that, BETWEEN species, tends to correlate with significant differences in cognitive capacity. On a finer scale within species and even between some closely related species, individual experience and neural structure are more likely to affect differences in intelligence - as Marnix said, some human "geniuses" have smaller than average absolute brain sizes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Booms
    another example of no brain-smarts correlation is in the 90's a boy who achieved top of his class, got A's and whatnot was discovered to have nothing in his head, no brain!, he had a strand of cerrebrial tissue and the rest of his skull was full of cerebral fluid, somehow the fluid was controlling his basic funtions and that little string of brain tissue got him to top of the class.
    Source, please. I find this very hard to believe. There are exceptional stories of people having large parts of their brain surgically removed, and the remaining brain manages to take over the majority of the missing functions and allow the person to function normally. How big is this "strand" of tissue? Because "no brain" is just not going to cut it.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
    ~Jean-Paul Sartre
    Reply With Quote  
     

  6. #5  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Cardiff, Wales
    Posts
    5,760
    Quote Originally Posted by Booms
    and no, Humans are not the biggest brains around by far and yet we are phenominally intelligent, ...
    however, humans have the highest encephalisation coefficient which is really the type of measure you should take into account for mammals so vastly different in size as mice and whales - the following website may be a good site as an introduction to the subject : Thinking about Brain Size

    Quote Originally Posted by Booms
    ... another example of no brain-smarts correlation is in the 90's a boy who achieved top of his class, got A's and whatnot was discovered to have nothing in his head, no brain!, he had a strand of cerrebrial tissue and the rest of his skull was full of cerebral fluid, somehow the fluid was controlling his basic funtions and that little string of brain tissue got him to top of the class
    this is a rather remarkable statement which would seem to contradict everything we think we know about how intelligence works - do you have a reference ?
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
    Reply With Quote  
     

  7. #6  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    5,305
    Mass ratio of brain to body is such a rough estimate. Grey matter cells vary in size, so a species may pack more or less. They may use them differently, for example a perpetually alert or highly instinct driven animal has no slack to think with. Contrast humans who regulate our alertness even to the point of "tuning out". Also, body mass only estimates the number of nerves - all that matter to the brain. In other words a rhino's bulk of hide, horn, and fat has little bearing on its brain, except that all flesh must include some density of nerves roughly comparable whatever the animal size. Still, a squirrel's paw contains a much higher density of nerves than a rhino's leg.

    Basically, intelligence owes to free neurons. Surplus. There are many ways to get that.

    Finally, an animal may have superhuman intelligence in one narrow area. For example the dolphin brain is dedicated to hydrodynamics, so they surpass us in that.

    YouTube - Dolphin play bubble rings . See 0:46 when the dolphin spins a bubble, and observes it. The dolphin's "reading" more than a human observer can.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  8. #7  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Cardiff, Wales
    Posts
    5,760
    in addition, as is mentioned in this article in New Scientist "This amazing organ, which accounts for only 2 per cent of our body mass but devours 20 per cent of the calories we eat, fritters away much of that energy doing, as far as we can tell, absolutely nothing."

    so even if you "tune out", your brain doesn't go into neutral
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
    Reply With Quote  
     

  9. #8  
    Forum Sophomore
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    103
    Hi, all interesting stuff, thanks.

    Because there are so many humans on the planet I assume there was/is a greater chance of trial and error when it came to learning ? I suppose I'm trying to say that, grizzly bears aren't as intelligent as humans, BUT if there were millions of grizzly bears they too could be just as intelligent as there was a greater chance of learning, through trial and error, and consequent brain development ???

    hope that makes sense.

    BARCUD
    Reply With Quote  
     

  10. #9  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Cardiff, Wales
    Posts
    5,760
    not necessarily so - big brains would only develop if overcrowding made having a big brain a survival asset
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
    Reply With Quote  
     

  11. #10  
    Forum Sophomore
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    103
    Yes BUT, I guess I'm asking a different question to brain size now.

    Regarding intelligence - the likelihood of the wheel being invented with 2 humans on the planet would be impossible. BUT, would the odds of the wheel being invented rise as humans multiplied ? Then after the invention of the wheel, the odds on everything else we are familiar with increases as the human population grows ?

    So I'm saying that it isn't particularly down to brain size why we are so intelligent. But rather the odds of humans becoming more intelligent and thus passing on their brain genes rises as the population rises ?

    We then are born at a certain place in time in an environment where the wheel and everything else we know has been invented/discovered and so that provides us with a platform from which the only way is up.

    Blimey have I lost the plot or does some of this make sense ?

    BARCUD
    Reply With Quote  
     

  12. #11  
    Forum Professor sunshinewarrior's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    London
    Posts
    1,526
    Quote Originally Posted by BARCUD
    Yes BUT, I guess I'm asking a different question to brain size now.

    Regarding intelligence - the likelihood of the wheel being invented with 2 humans on the planet would be impossible. BUT, would the odds of the wheel being invented rise as humans multiplied ? Then after the invention of the wheel, the odds on everything else we are familiar with increases as the human population grows ?

    So I'm saying that it isn't particularly down to brain size why we are so intelligent. But rather the odds of humans becoming more intelligent and thus passing on their brain genes rises as the population rises ?

    We then are born at a certain place in time in an environment where the wheel and everything else we know has been invented/discovered and so that provides us with a platform from which the only way is up.

    Blimey have I lost the plot or does some of this make sense ?

    BARCUD
    At this point I'd strongly recommend reading Gould on brain-body mass index, or Dennett on kinds of minds.

    Intelligence is a very vague, and often controversial term, and you appear to be using it to include forms of socially generated learning. Remember that an animal cannot learn, no matter how large its population, if the basic learning equipment (the brain and its structure) is not there to begin with.

    Herring form gigantic shoals but for all their interaction and numbers, there is no sign of intelligence there (not in the human sense). The passenger pigeon, before it was wiped out in North America a hundred years ago, had a population ofover a billion, but again, no signs of extraordinary intelligence.

    What Gould (but even Dawkins has done this) shows, is that overall intelligence (if such a thing can be non-contentiously defined) can be seen in a log-log graph of body-mass to brain-mass in a species. By that token, humans are further above the scale (brain mass on the y-axis) than any other species we have measured, but the closest are the chimpanzees and dolphins.

    No matter how enriched an environment, it cannot turn a flatworm, or even a Kodiak Bear, into an Einstein.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  13. #12  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    2,193
    Big testicles are good in non-monogamous social networks.

    Big brains are good for keeping a warm head in the winter.

    Big butts are good for childbearing.
    "Kill them all and let God sort them out."

    - Arnaud Amalric

    http://spuriousforums.com/index.php
    Reply With Quote  
     

  14. #13  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    5,305
    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    so even if you "tune out", your brain doesn't go into neutral
    Yes, by "tune out" I meant like when you close out the senses to think better. In fact your brain activity peaks while staring "at" an exam room wall. Humans are quite good at shifting attention in this way. We can't know just what's going on in an animal's mind, but clearly few animals pause to reflect while solving a puzzle. If they could, we'd find them behaving more intelligently - at times - just with what they've got.

    Size is good but there's also how you use it. :P
    Reply With Quote  
     

  15. #14  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard paralith's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    2,190
    I remember hearing about a study that was looking a brain patterns in "adrenaline addicts" - stuntmen, extreme sports people, that kind of thing. The testers would have subjects sit in a PET scanner and just tell them to wait - as though they were getting ready to do something. Most peoples' brain activity was fairly low for the first few minutes while they waited for something to happen, but then rose as they began to think about other things. The adrenaline addicts' brain activity, however, practically went to zero after a few minutes.

    I'll have to see if I can hunt down the actual study. I don't know how accurate that is but it's very interesting.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
    ~Jean-Paul Sartre
    Reply With Quote  
     

Bookmarks
Bookmarks
Posting Permissions
  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •