Consciousness: Big brains not necessary

A bigger brain doesn’t mean more intelligence, say biologists at the University of London who suggest that insects could be as intelligent as much bigger animals and that only a few thousand neurons may be necessary to generate consciousness.

Differences in brain size are extreme. A whale’s brain can weigh up to 9 kg (with more than 200 billion nerve cells), and human brains vary between 1.25 kg and 1.45 kg (with an estimated 85 billion nerve cells). A honeybee’s brain weighs only 1 milligram and contains fewer than a million nerve cells.

Past research has shown that insects are capable of intelligent behaviors that scientists previously thought were unique to larger animals. Honeybees, for example, can count, categorize similar objects, understand concepts like “same” and “different,” and differentiate between shapes that are symmetrical and asymmetrical.

“We know that body size is the single best way to predict an animal’s brain size,” explains researcher Lars Chittka in the journal Current Biology. “However, contrary to popular belief, we can’t say that brain size predicts their capacity for intelligent behavior. Animals with bigger brains are not necessarily more intelligent.”

Research suggests that bigger animals may need bigger brains simply because there is more to control – for example they need to move bigger muscles and therefore need more and bigger nerves to move them. The size increase allows the brain to function in greater detail, finer resolution, higher sensitivity or greater precision: in other words, more of the same.

“In bigger brains we often don’t find more complexity, just an endless repetition of the same neural circuits over and over. This might add detail to remembered images or sounds, but not add any degree of complexity. To use a computer analogy, bigger brains might in many cases be bigger hard drives, not necessarily better processors,” Chittka suggested.

Chittka posits that much of what we would class as advanced thinking can actually be done with very limited neuron numbers. He claims that computer modeling shows that consciousness can be generated with very small neural circuits, which could in theory easily fit into an insect brain. In fact, these models suggest that counting could be achieved with only a few hundred nerve cells and only a few thousand could be enough to generate consciousness.

Related:
Honeybees show surprising numeracy skills
The High Cost Of Intelligence
Gecko’s tail has a mind of its own
Elephants Join Cognitive Elite

Source: University of London

, ,

Comments are closed.

Crown Chakra Soy Candle Crystals Herbs Consciousness Yoga Meditation Wiccan  picture

Crown Chakra Soy Candle Crystals Herbs Consciousness Yoga Meditation Wiccan

$24.99



Consciousness and Congratulations Foil 3 Topps Black Logo Movie Edition PSA 7 picture

Consciousness and Congratulations Foil 3 Topps Black Logo Movie Edition PSA 7

$79.99



Vtg CONSCIOUSNESS: ANNOYING TIME BETWEEN NAPS Badge Button PIn Pinback As Is S1 picture

Vtg CONSCIOUSNESS: ANNOYING TIME BETWEEN NAPS Badge Button PIn Pinback As Is S1

$17.95



8mm GORGEOUS RARE REVELATION STONE FUTURE CONSCIOUSNESS CRYSTAL BRACELET picture

8mm GORGEOUS RARE REVELATION STONE FUTURE CONSCIOUSNESS CRYSTAL BRACELET

$150.00



Consciousness: That Annoying Time Between Naps Badge Button Pin Pinback Vintage picture

Consciousness: That Annoying Time Between Naps Badge Button Pin Pinback Vintage

$13.45



Basic Call to Consciousness 1991 Paperback Akwesasne Notes INDIAN Haudenosaunee picture

Basic Call to Consciousness 1991 Paperback Akwesasne Notes INDIAN Haudenosaunee

$9.99



Consciousness & Congratulations #3 Topps Pokemon First Movie Mewtwo Strikes Back picture

Consciousness & Congratulations #3 Topps Pokemon First Movie Mewtwo Strikes Back

$7.50



Biff Kard Products CONSCIOUSNESS RAISING Vintage 4x6 Postcard London POP ART picture

Biff Kard Products CONSCIOUSNESS RAISING Vintage 4x6 Postcard London POP ART

$3.38



Tektite Crystal Healing Kundalini tibet Cosmic Consciousness psychic natural x2 picture

Tektite Crystal Healing Kundalini tibet Cosmic Consciousness psychic natural x2

$19.37



Takashi Murakami Charge into the Center of Consciousness signed print ED 300 picture

Takashi Murakami Charge into the Center of Consciousness signed print ED 300

$2249.00



Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes