Monday, June 8, 2015

Does the size of the brain matter?

Does the size of the brain matter?

The brain is the most incredibly mysterious organ in the human body. Researchers have linked its size to intelligence and cognitive skills. Others have also linked it to the ability to exude morality and sacred values. The question is: does having a big brain necessarily mean one is, has a high IQ? Since men have larger brains than women, does that make them smarter? When SAT scores of a 100000 17 and 18-year old boys were compared to the scores of their female counterparts, the boys were found to have 3.63 IQ points higher than the girls. This could be interpreted to mean that bigger brains make one brainier. Nevertheless, making that statement a fact is still work in progress.
While increases in brain size may indicate a better capacity to intelligent behavior, only a particular section of the brain matters. This is why some animals have heightened senses of smell, sight or abilities to have greater precision in particular movements. One would ask himself then if brain size matters, why do insects with the brain the size of a pin-head have equal or higher intelligence than other bigger animals? The average human being has a brain weight ranging between 1.25kg and 1.45kg with 85 billion nerve cells while a whale can have a brain weighing 9kg with more than 200 billion nerve cells. This does not make a whale brighter than the human being. In fact, the intelligence of people compared to that of whales is outstanding. Bigger animals may have bigger brains only because they need higher control for their big bodies not because they are more intelligent.

Other studies suggest that indeed the size of the brain matters. Magnetic resonance imaging has been used to show the comparison between the sizes of human brains to their intelligence. A few years back, the outcome of twenty-six imaging studies established that there was indeed a relationship between the intelligence level and brain size. It showed that the correlation was steadily within 0.3 to 0.4 ranges. The genome-wide association study, which included 20000 human subjects, showed that the difference in HMGA2 gene that makes cell growth possible was correlated with the intracranial volume and enhanced IQ. Higher morals reasoning skills have also been linked to a bigger brain. Studies suggest that a person with a bigger brain has more capacity to learn new things and also establish more cognitive behavior. Their increased gray matter in the brain enables them to make more acceptable moral decisions and social behavior. This is the reason they are more likely to choose to do the right thing other than the wrong thing.
Finally, it cannot be said conclusively whether brain size affects the reasoning capacity of human beings. If that were true, Albert Einstein, a scientist would have encountered immense difficulty thinking and establishing theories and facts due to his average-sized brain. His example proves that indeed the size of the brain does not determine intelligence. There may be more to brainpower than simply having a massive brain which includes the higher degrees of gray matter in the brain. Having smaller brains, therefore, does not necessarily throw one into the pit of poor academic performance and low cognitive abilities. Truth be told, some of the most outstanding minds had smaller brains than the average man.

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