Brain Organization, Not Size, Key to Intelligence

This is good news for all of us who believe we still have additional potential for biological evolution before we need to plug in non-biological implants.

A new study, Brain reorganization, not relative brain size, primarily characterizes anthropoid brain evolution, published by Proceedings of the Royal Society B, shows that brain organization is more important than size. This aligns completely with observations that brain size, even when adjusted for body size, seems to have minimal correlation with intelligence or abilities to function as a human.

Although brain size must still be of some importance, this study makes it clear that it is not everything. This also shows that evolution has already developed a solution to the brain’s energy problem by developing a way of increasing intelligence and capability without requiring more energy.

I have speculated that there was a major change in brain organization approximately 60-90,000 years ago that accounts for the capabilities of modern humans. I have also speculated that our brains are still evolving and reorganizing and that new abilities may be developing in the human psyche.

Although the full study seems to be pay walled, a good explanation of it can be found at Live Science.

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2 Responses to Brain Organization, Not Size, Key to Intelligence

  1. Marilyn says:

    Interesting speculations. Gregg Braden used to do a workshop where he would show that the reason humans have not evolved is because they are only using 10% of their brains. With 90% of the brain inactive, we can see why that would be a problem. To active the rest of the brain, he surmised that we have to explore our inner consciousness, either with meditations, deep philosophical questioning about our human nature and the nature of the universe, and develop a belief system that connects all human beings. We must come to the understanding that separateness makes our thinking small. To be conscious of our connection with the “all that is” is what will open the mind and use 100% of the brain and change all of humanity which will in turn bring all humans together as a connected unit.
    Interesting stuff. Thanks for the moment to reflect.

  2. James Cross says:

    The idea that we only use 10% of brain probably isn’t correct. A good part of our brain is controlling devoted to maintenance and monitoring. Most of that doesn’t bubble up into consciousness. There are also seems to be decision making mechanisms that stay below the conscious level. These sometimes come into action without any awareness or with awareness following quickly thereafter. I think we use a good deal more than we consciously think we are using.

    However, the 10% argument does have a sort of intuitive truth in that we probably have untapped mental abilities that could become available to us with the proper training and development. It might be that the way of tapping these abilities is by expanding the amount of brain activity that does come into consciousness.

    An interesting question is why does anything need to be conscious. I believe a device could be built that could completely mimic a person but would not be conscious, although some might argue that the behavior of appearing conscious is sufficient to infer consciousness.

    I think consciousness must have a evolutionary reason. I suspect it has several roles.

    1- Long term planning
    2- Decision making when the unconscious decision making levels cannot decide or have a significant degree of ambivalence
    3- Overseeing the unconscious levels
    4- Interpreting and predicting, particularly the behavior of others

    I think there probably also is some long range purpose for consciousness in the universe. Perhaps it is essential that the universe have consciousness.

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