Tuesday, August 30, 2016

So . . . Elephants aren't Quite as Smart as We are?

Brains: Human and Elephant
Google Images

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.

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.
That answers my identical question, so I now know.

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At 8:21 AM, Blogger TheBigHenry said...

Thanks, HJH. I didn't know that.

At 8:50 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Welcome, TBH.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 4:20 PM, Blogger Kevin Kim said...

But did the scientists check the antebellum?


At 4:53 PM, Blogger TheBigHenry said...


While they're at it, they might as well also check the unclebellum.

At 5:44 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

My god, Kevin, you're right to call attention to this oft-overlooked part of the brain! Let's also not forget the antibellum, the bellum, and the belladonna!

Jeffery Hodges

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At 5:47 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

And Saddam Hussein's Mother-Of-All Bellums . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:49 AM, Blogger TheBigHenry said...


There is also bellasandra, bellabeatrice, bellamary, etc.

At 2:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And the Ralph Bellamy don't forget.


At 7:23 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

"Your Brain: A Hobbesian War of All Against All!"

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:29 AM, Blogger TheBigHenry said...

Bellum omnium contra omnes.

At 8:17 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Sounds ominous.

Jeffery Hodges

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