Brain size and intelligence: is there a correlation?

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Humans have always been curious and propelled to learn about the shapes, forms, and concepts that surround us. We strive to breed more intelligent and stronger generations that is to follow; while we soar to explore the incomprehensible distances of space. With a branch of study for each subject or topic that exists in our world, we strive to understand and to shed light on the mysteries of the unexplored. Despite these intense and ardent endeavors to understand what exists outside of our body and mind, humans struggle to comprehend the abilities and processes of the human brain.

According to a Stanford bioengineer named Kwabena Boahen, “the brain is capable of performing 10 quadrillion ‘calculations,’ or synaptic events, per second using only 10 watts of power. At this rate… a computer as powerful as the human brain would require one gigawatt of power.” Despite being so efficient, the human brain is ironically the fattest organ in our body. Approximately, 60% or more of the brain is comprised of fat. Not only does the average human brain consists of at least 60% of fat, but the brain is also about 75% water. When informed of these facts, Townsend Harris students demonstrated a sign of surprise and interest in the matter.

Brandon LuShing, a Junior at THHS, was interviewed and asked about how he felt about the mysterious and brain- whacking attributes of the human brain. He responded by saying that he was very interested in how the brain works and why it is capable of doing so much, while taking so little. Towards the end of the interview, Brandon stated, “I have always been curious on the matter regarding brain size, and if it relates to the level of intelligence of individuals.”

To answer Brandon’s curiosity, while no form of empirical proof has been found regarding the connection between brain size and intelligence, scientists noted that the brains of bright individuals are bigger than those of an average human in certain regions. For example, when Albert Einstein’s brain was evaluated after his death, it was noted that Einstein’s brain was similar in size to that of the average human. However, the region of the brain that was responsible for mathematics and spatial perception was 35% wider than average. In another instance, long term researches have shown that London taxi drivers, who are known for remembering the names of every street by heart, have larger than average sized hippocampuses. This case is especially true and prominent in the drivers who have been on the job the longest. Studies suggest that as people memorize more and more information and data, this part of their brain continues to grow and develop.

There are numerous studies being conducted now, as a new effort to understand the human brain and its processes. The human brain is more efficient and powerful supercomputers, and by understanding and studying the brain scientists might be able to create more powerful computer processors and other technology. Next time someone calls you a dim lightbulb, it is actually a compliment for the 20 watts of energy used to power your brain is the same quantity of energy required to power a dim lightbulb.