Suzana Herculano-Houzel: What is so special about the human brain?
Suzana Herculano-Houzel - Neuroscientist
Suzana Herculano-Houzel shrunk the human brain by 14 billion neurons -- by developing a new way to count them. Full bio
in these questions about 10 years ago,
what different brains were made of.
with brains of different sizes,
and the larger the brain,
than we should have
than just operating the body.
very different numbers of neurons.
actually has the most neurons
to count cells in the brain,
of this homogeneous solution,
a rodent brain of the same size,
the 86 billion neurons mean.
and its number of neurons
would have really appreciated this.
per billion neurons per day.
not because we're special.
remarkable number of neurons,
than we do, with more neurons?
and a large number of neurons.
certain number of neurons costs,
body size and number of neurons.
energy in much less time.
the energy for a lot of neurons
the way I think about food.
About the speaker:Suzana Herculano-Houzel - Neuroscientist
Suzana Herculano-Houzel shrunk the human brain by 14 billion neurons -- by developing a new way to count them.
Why you should listen
How many neurons make a human brain? For years, the answer has been (give or take) 100 billion. But neuroscientist Suzana Herculano-Houzel decided to count them herself. Her research approach involved dissolving four human brains (donated to science) into a homogeneous mixture -- in her lab at the Institute of Biomedical Sciences in Rio de Janeiro, they call it "brain soup." She then took a sample of the mix, counted the number of cell nuclei belonging to neurons, and scaled that up. Result: the human brain has about 86 billion neurons, 14 billion fewer than assumed -- but intriguingly, far more than other animals, relative to brain size.
She suggests that it was the invention of cooking by our ancestors -- which makes food yield much more metabolic energy -- that allowed humans to develop the largest primate brain. She's now working on elephant and whale brains to test her hypothesis.
Suzana Herculano-Houzel | Speaker | TED.com