So . . . Elephants aren't Quite as Smart as We are?
Writing for Nautilius (APRIL 7, 2016), Suzana Herculano-Houzel notes "The Paradox of the Elephant Brain," namely, "With three times as many neurons, why doesn't the elephant brain outperform ours?" Where did Herculano-Houzel get these numbers? She and her lab assistants calculated them based on the dissection of an African elephant's brain, and . . .
. . . Lo and behold, the African elephant brain had more neurons than the human brain. And not just a few more: a full three times the number of neurons, 257 billion to our 86 billion neurons. But - and this was a huge, immense "but" - a whopping 98 percent of those neurons were located in the cerebellum, at the back of the brain. In every other mammal we had examined so far, the cerebellum concentrated most of the brain neurons, but never much more than 80 percent of them. The exceptional distribution of neurons within the elephant brain left a relatively meager 5.6 billion neurons in the whole cerebral cortex itself. Despite the size of the African elephant cerebral cortex, the 5.6 billion neurons in it paled in comparison to the average 16 billion neurons concentrated in the much smaller human cerebral cortex.That answers my identical question, so I now know.
So here was our answer. No, the human brain does not have more neurons than the much larger elephant brain - but the human cerebral cortex has nearly three times as many neurons as the over twice as large cerebral cortex of the elephant.