Unsupervised Thinking
a podcast about neuroscience, artificial intelligence and science more broadly

Monday, June 27, 2016

Episode 10: Brain Size

It's the big 1-0 here at Unsupervised Thinking and for it we are tackling a big topic: brain size! [insert obligatory "does size matter" joke here]. Ever since humans started using their intelligence to compare their brains to that of other animals, we've been searching for what makes us so much more intelligent than those other animals. In this episode we first ask are we so much more intelligent? And if so is it due to our brain mass? volume? number of neurons? After summarizing how these properties vary across species, we get into the evolutionary pressures that would lead to big brains and how scientists study brain size today. Finally, we look within humans to see how brain size varies across people and whether it's correlated with intelligence. Throughout we learn that Conor is freaked out by the fact that whales are mammals in water and Josh has some really weird ideas about fabric.

We read:
The remarkable, yet not extraordinary, human brain as a scaled-up primate brain and its associated cost
Is bigger always better? The importance of cortical configuration with respect to cognitive ability. [$]
Three counting methods agree on cell and neuron number in chimpanzee V1
Quantitative relationships in delphinid neocortex
Dolphin social intelligence
Nautilus: The Paradox of the Elephant Brain

To listen to (or download) this episode, (right) click here or use the player on the main page

As always, our jazzy theme music "Quirky Dog" is courtesy of Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) 

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