Science

Consciousness May Not Require Big Brain

Posted 19 Nov 2009 at 19:28 UTC by steve Share This

In an appropriate follow up to yesterday's article on IBM's large scale cortical simulation, comes news from brain researchers at Queen Mary, University of London and Cambridge University. Lars Chittka and other researchers, who have been studying both computer simulations and animal brains, now believe that brain size is not as significant as previously believed with respect to general intelligence and consciousness. "No one would seriously suggest that a bigger computer is automatically a better computer", say the researchers.

We know that body size is the single best way to predict an animal's brain size. However, contrary to popular belief, we can't say that brain size predicts their capacity for intelligent behaviour. In bigger brains we often don't find more complexity, just an endless repetition of the same neural circuits over and over.

The larger amount of IO needed in larger animals for things such as more muscles and higher resolution sensors may be the main driving factor for needing larger brains. The researchers say it's possible significant intelligence and consciousness could be present even in insect brains. This fits in with other recent research showing that, despite their tiny brain size, bees could match the best machine-based face recognition algorithms. For more, see the full text the researchers report, Are Bigger Brains Better (PDF format), or listen to the BBC Radio interview of Professor Lars Chittka on BBC Radio 4. CC-licensed image of honeybee by flickr user Agent Opie

See more of the latest robot news!

Recent blogs

20 Apr 2014 Flanneltron (Journeyer)
19 Apr 2014 mwaibel (Master)
17 Apr 2014 shimniok (Journeyer)
8 Apr 2014 Petar.Kormushev (Master)
6 Apr 2014 steve (Master)
2 Mar 2014 wedesoft (Master)
1 Dec 2013 AI4U (Observer)
13 Nov 2013 jlin (Master)
23 Jun 2013 Mubot (Master)
13 May 2013 JLaplace (Observer)
X
Share this page