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Biotech Science

Bigger Brains Make Smarter People Study Says 426

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the hector-hammond-and-the-leader dept.
udderly writes "People with bigger brains are smarter according to a Virginia Commonwealth University industrial and organizational psychologist, Michael A. McDaniel, Ph.D. McDaniel, who is a professor in management at VCU's School of Business. He reviewed 26 previous studies comparing brain size and intelligence and found that brain volume has a strong correlation to intelligence. According to McDaniel, 'for all age and sex groups, it is now very clear that brain volume and intelligence are related.' So, how big of a hat do you wear?"
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Bigger Brains Make Smarter People Study Says

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  • Drudge Report (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    When did this place become the Drudge Report outlet mall? The last three stories have been on Drudge for a day.

    Ok, I officially resign.
  • Airheads? (Score:4, Funny)

    by 6800 (643075) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @09:56AM (#12850597)
    They forgot to subtract the inclosed volumn of air!
    • by game kid (805301)
      I FEEL LIEK, SO0O OFENDED BAY THAT!!1 LOL! --hold on, so I have, liek, air in my bran? Is that liek chicken or fish? ...and, liek, wats this brane anywayz?
    • by fbform (723771) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @04:13PM (#12852492)

      Jules: Do you know what they call a Quarter Pounder with cheese in France?
      Brett: No.
      Jules: Tell him, Vincent.
      Vincent: Royale with cheese.
      Jules: Royale with cheese. Do you know why they call it a Royale with cheese?
      Brett: Because of the metric system?
      Jules: Check out the big brain on Brett. You're one smart motherfucker. That's right - the metric system!
  • Savants (Score:5, Interesting)

    by headkase (533448) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @09:58AM (#12850600)
    If you thought as good about everything as a savant thought about one thing, I believe it would show that with proper organization a well wired smaller mass can be capable of greater predictions of the environment than a larger brain mass.
    But considering that we all share the same assembly instructions, apples to apples maybe bigger is better.
    • Re:Savants (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rpcxdr (796317) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @10:05AM (#12850640)
      It is more likely the number of folds [unimelb.edu.au] in the brain that predict intelligence, since folds imply a more complex wiring pattern.

      This study would probably find a correlation between number of folds and brain size.
      • Folding (Score:3, Interesting)

        by headkase (533448)
        Whats neat is that the folding is a fractal structure which when unfolded has a very large surface area vs. it's actual size when folded. So I don't know about more folds implying a more complex wiring pattern, instead providing more neurons to be wired in some way.
    • Re:Savants (Score:4, Insightful)

      by nkh (750837) <exochicken&gmail,com> on Saturday June 18, 2005 @10:17AM (#12850706) Journal
      German scientists already knew that the bumps [wikipedia.org] on your head could demonstrate (with a very high accuracy ;) how smart you are. What we need now is something more "scientific" like: how our neurons act with one another or how wired the different parts of the brain can be...
      • Phrenology [britishlibrary.net] is so pre-modern. The Germans we're also pursuing quantum zero-point energy during WWII because Relativity would never amount to anything. (e=mc^2 of course as expressed as a nuclear weapon)
      • For a more scientific perspective, it's difficult. There's so many things that exist in a intelligence: the substrate it's built on (what it is composed of), a fundamental unit of computation (a nueron), and the connectivity patterns of the units to each other. Then, from a computational perspective, you have to compartmentalize your knowledge in a way our current scientific method is not good at: Instead of breaking things down into subunits (reductionism: what we're good at), you have to instead discove
      • Re:Savants (Score:5, Funny)

        by anothy (83176) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @12:44PM (#12851465) Homepage
        i had a philosophy professor who, in an effort to illustrate some point or other, announced to the lecture hall that the grading system was being revised such that, rather than being based 35% on exams, 35% on papers, 20% on regular assignments, and 10% on attendance, it would now be graded 100% on phrenology [wikipedia.org]. he and the TAs had discussed this at length, he explained, and while none of them actually believed the "science" was valid for predictive or investigative uses, they thought it was "kinda fun". while their decision was final, reaction from the class was solicited.

        my response? i was thrilled. i told him that most of my professors seemed to be grading based on random elements unrelated to class performance, and i was excited to have one actually admit it.
    • by hugesmile (587771) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @11:11AM (#12850979)
      Finally!

      I have always worried about the size of my brain. When I have thoughts, even though she says that the thought is good, I know that what she really wants is an extra inch!

      3 months ago I found The Extender. I just put it on whilst I'm driving the car and when I'm sleeping. It stays hidden under my clothes and it is really surprisingly comfortable and soft.

      I could tell that my brain was getting larger and heavier, but I thought that when I took it back off I would shrink back to original size. I was really surprised!

      I have been 115 IQ since adolescence When I took off The Extender I was measuring 145 IQ. After not wearing the extender for a week, I am still 145 IQ!

      The enlargement is permanent!

      I could not believe the results of this device. I am back to wearing it again and I'm still getting larger! My girlfriend says it is the best product I've ever bought, and she ALWAYS reminds me to put it on if I forget!

      Take a peek... We know it works. There's a total guarantee with it, too. If you are not completely satisfied with your size gain and comfort you get your money back. Every penny. No-one sends them back!

      The Extender correct the curve of the brain too, straightening out sharp bends as new cells grow!

      • TMBG (Score:3, Funny)

        by Jodka (520060)

        Everybody wants prosthetic
        Foreheads on their real heads
        Everybody wants prosthetic
        Foreheads on their real heads
    • Re:Savants (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @01:38PM (#12851749) Journal
      If you thought as good about everything as a savant thought about one thing, I believe it would show that with proper organization a well wired smaller mass can be capable of greater predictions of the environment than a larger brain mass.

      On the other hand there is an experiment that seem to indicate that cognitive ability is largely a function of number of instances of some simple pattern:

      Experiment was run in a Y maze, i.e. subject placed in one end, food reward at one of the other two ends. Three subject types: Particular breed of fish, turtles (with about twice the brain mass), and a third I'll get to later.

      Initially food is always on, say, the right at first. Subject learns to turn right. Once this learning is established, the maze is reversed. Subject must UNlearn "food on right" and learn "food on left". Measure number of trials to do this. Repeat.

      With the fish it takes a while for them to figure out the food is now on the left. And then takes them about the same number trials to learn it's back on the right. You can do reversals until your grant runs out and it still takes them about the same number of trials to figure out that it's switched.

      With the turtles, after a few reversals they suddenly get the concept of reversals. After that they catch on very quickly that the maze has swapped again.

      Now the interesting part: Take embryos of the fish species. Remove the prototype brain tissue from one and insert it into another. Let it mature. Result is a chimera fish with a double-mass fish brain of apparently the normal organization - and about the size of the brain of the turtle.

      Run these through the test and they learn reversals just like the turtle did. They "get it" with what is apparently just more-of-the-same rather than anything special.

      With respect to savants: It's pretty clear that different areas of the brain are specialized for different things. So savants having normal-sized brains and being exceptionally good at one thing is not at odds with the idea that it's more neurons that make more smarts. They could as easily have given over more of their brain tissue to processing that specialty - possibly at the cost of starving other functions of neurons.

      On the other hand, that doesn't eliminate other possibilities, such as better organization of that part of the brain, or more attention given to the subject in a more general-purpose system. The big-brained fish could be expected to have more of any specialized processor sections, as well as more "general-purpose cpu resources" to distribute (as "attention") to tasks like cracking the maze problem.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 18, 2005 @09:59AM (#12850604)
    Mister Spock noted that the Talosians were smarter because they had bigger brains during "The Cage".

    WAYSA?
  • We've been discussing this over at Gene Expression [gnxp.com] for a bit now.
  • by Nimloth (704789) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @09:59AM (#12850609)
    AFTER Kerry's lost the election.
  • by Baron_Yam (643147) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @09:59AM (#12850610)
    I'd suggest that the study is probably right about the average larger brain providing its owner with a higher intelligence than the average average-sized brain.

    However, neuron count in specific brain areas would seem to be more significant, and higher densities would provide more neurons/volume and therefore enable a smaller brain to outperform a larger one.

    Using hat size to select job applicants, as the linked article suggests, is probably not a good idea.
    • by Life2Short (593815) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @10:16AM (#12850697)
      The study was a meta-analysis of previous studies. Did you notice how small the sample sizes were for the original studies? About half had fewer than 50, it looked like. Not that that is a big problem, but how hard would it be to just go around to public schools and measure children's head size and gather their intelligence scores? Also, as always, causality cannot be inferred from correlation. No attempt was made to control for variables such as income, which might influence diet, health care, etc. Finally, if bigger heads really implied greater intelligence, wouldn't you expect offensive linemen on professional football teams to be some of the most intelligent people in the U.S.? For all I know, perhaps they are...
    • True. If brain size were the only factor, dolphins would be much smarter than us
      (begin Hitchiker's jokes :)
    • Eggheads (Score:2, Interesting)

      by glrotate (300695)
      I was discussing this recent line of discussions about brain size and intelligence. From my recollection the Math department at my school had the highest concentrations of big headed people. There were several I had in my diff eq and analysis lectures that at first glance you would say were borderline hydrocephalic. Obviously they weren't, but they did have some big noggins.
    • I'd suggest that the study is probably right about the average larger brain providing its owner with a higher intelligence than the average average-sized brain.

      People with small brains (PHBs), however, are going to either ignore or misunderstand the fact that the "study" explicitly refers to averages.

      I remember when sports physiologists first started using oxygen uptake data to predict endurance sport performance. A journalist was being shown the data for the American National Cycling Team and noted tha
    • Too late.

      Put your hat size in the box and take a seat:

      [ ]

      Also, leave a map of the bumps on your head, and don't forget to tell the receptionist your religion before you leave.
  • by WebHostingGuy (825421) * on Saturday June 18, 2005 @10:00AM (#12850616) Homepage Journal
    As several sites have suggested 1, [250x.com] 2, [bbc.co.uk] 3, [bioquant.com] Einstein's brain fell in the range of normal for all measurements, except for the portion known as the inferior parietal lobes, located in the middle of the brain. This middle portion was 15% wider and had no groove.

    So maybe the correct conclusion is not that bigger is better, but only the sections that matter. Remember, its not the size of the wand, its the magic in it that counts.
    • I know its heresy, but, think about it. Maybe he just more hacked away at his stuff until he got it to "work" than he was actually a genius.
      • Either way I dont think being smart guarantee's success, riches or a good life IMHO, there are plenty of genius's that were pretty fucked up people. Also there were geniuses that preferred to live their lives quietly then use their abilities "for humanity" (Google William James Sidis for example).
      • There are many different ways a brain can "think" its way to an idea. Genius is relative as much as any one skill from another.

        *Babbling off now*

        We all technically hack away at life. It is a combination of what we are aware of and what we do. In the very core of hacker is life itself, but a specific nature of life. It is like thought crunching to understand and solve problems. When you hack away at something, essentially you are focused and spend time on one particular idea.

    • > Einstein's brain fell in the range of normal for all measurements, except for the portion known as the inferior parietal lobes

      His inferior lobes were superior?

    • Reminds me of something some said to me once
      Freind:Dude a small precision tool is far better than a large blunt object
      Me: Yes but nothing beats a large blunt object for doing some serious hammering.
    • WHAT rule? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Chris Burke (6130)
      It's just the same old bullshit. Oh, so brain size correlates with intelligence. What a wonderful 19th century hypothesis. They've been trying to prove exactly this for centuries. Funny how conclusions predate evidence. But I'm sure they've nailed it this time.

      Okay, before I go off on them, we've made advances since then... So apparently we've got a new, rigorous definition of intelligence, that they found a unique way to measure... Wait... it's just the same old standardized tests which use the sam
      • Re:WHAT rule? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by dustmite (667870) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @12:53PM (#12851517)

        and that races like Australian aborigines are inferior because they are smaller still? My guess is about... fifteen seconds.

        ^^^ Woah - hold it right there, this type of political correctness is the antithesis of science. While there will always be groups who abuse "science" to prove some racist point, that doesn't mean that all research that makes such claims are cases of abuse, and if you believe in science at all then you cannot just offhandedly dismiss the possibility that, until proven otherwise, it might actually be true that physically smaller races have slightly lower average intelligence. Has it been proven otherwise? No. Never. Yet somehow, you seem to already have arrived at the conclusion that it cannot be true. How can you know this? What is your reproducible research that proves it? Truth is the ultimate goal - science should never be censored or impeded for the sake of political correctness, as you are suggesting. If someone wants to study the intelligence of aboriginal races in a scientifically sound manner, and produced proveable results that you didn't like, should those results be censored?

        I don't know why this study seems to offend you so much. It only talks about averages - it does not mean that someone with a small head cannot be intelligent, it's still possible, just less likely on average, if the results are true. (Is your head smaller than average?) This doesn't show that people will smaller brains are going to be less intelligent - just that there is a general correlation on average. The correlation be so slight as to even have no practically useful predictive power - doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Einstein's single case doesn't "prove the rule is garbage", that's the most scientifically and statistically unsound claim I've seen on slashdot in a long time. A sample size of one doesn't tell you anything - a first year stats student can tell you that.

        I agree that the idea that this might be used to e.g. put small children into 'boxes' that pre-determine their supposed potential and destiny based on head size is highly noxious, and that this could very well happen. Schools already put children into such boxes all the time based on various factors. But none of that is a problem with the science. If there is a correlation, and science can show the correlation, then it doesn't matter how much you dislike it.

        I don't see any of the circular reasoning you mention, since they don't claim that brain size causes "intelligence" (as measured by their "intelligence tests") .. merely that if the standardised tests they measure do actually measure intelligence, that there is a correlation between those test results and brain size. So what they've really measured, is a correlation between brain size and the results of 'standardised intelligence tests'. They haven't proven, nor have they claimed to prove, that 'standardised intelligence tests' do measure "intelligence". "Intelligence" might be a term that is too fuzzy to measure scientifically, but the fact remains that standardised intelligence tests are still one of the best predictors of future job performance. They have practical utility, even if the science is not sound.

        • Re:WHAT rule? (Score:3, Insightful)

          ...until proven otherwise, it might actually be true that physically smaller races have slightly lower average intelligence. Has it been proven otherwise

          Actually, I think the answer is yes. Intelligence of animals has been found to relate to the brain-size to body mass ratio.

          As to dismissing scientific results on the grounds of 'sounds like BS' -- well, you are kinda right, it should not be done... unless you are reading the ACTUAL research paper, and not some science writers interpretation thereof.
        • Re:WHAT rule? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Chris Burke (6130) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @03:55PM (#12852417) Homepage
          Woah - hold it right there, this type of political correctness is the antithesis of science.

          Whoa yerself. I'm not rejecting the study based on possible non-PC conclusions, I'm rejecting it because it is the same crap we've seen before that always suffers from the same logical fallacies. That annoys me.

          The fact that there will be racist and sexist conclusions drawn from this study also annoys me, because it's the Bell Curve all over again -- crap science used to justify an "our preconceived societal prejudices are actually scientifically valid biological innevitabilities" conclusion.

          it might actually be true that physically smaller races have slightly lower average intelligence. Has it been proven otherwise? No. Never.

          Has it been proven true? No, never. Have people tried? Yes, repeatedly. Have the same mistakes been made resulting in the same self-confirming conclusions? Yes, repeatedly.

          As long as we're talking about unproven hypothesis, how about this one: There is an inherent "intelligence" that can be measured as a single numerical value (or small number of values). This has not ever been proven. We don't even know what intelligence is. We know we have it, but like "consciousness" or "creativity" we can't define it in a way that turns it into a physical entity, much less a quantifiable physical entitiy. And so far there is no indication that this is even possible. But this study is predicated on this hypothesis being true.

          I don't know why this study seems to offend you so much. It only talks about averages - it does not mean that someone with a small head cannot be intelligent, it's still possible, just less likely on average, if the results are true. (Is your head smaller than average?)

          Quite the opposite. I have a large head, though I don't know how large my brain is. I think I'm pretty smart, but I know I'm very good at taking tests -- especially multiple-choice standardized tests. I have no doubt I'd fall on or above whatever curve they drew. I have no personal ego at stake here whatsoever. I'm a smart privileged white male (with a big head) -- these things always come out in my favor, but that doesn't make me less likely to view them as crap.

          So why does the study offend me? Because first it is crap, and second because these studies are always commissioned, accepted (despite the flaws) and used by two groups of people:

          1) Bureaucrats. Whether in business, education, or government, they want to be able to take a person and give them a single "goodness" value so they can just put everybody into a sort function and pick the top N. Instead of helping every student reach as high as they can, selectively help the "smartest" and let the inherently less smart prepare for blue collar jobs. Do away with annoying and subjective interviews; managers want a quantitative way to pick "the best". Never been proven to be possible, but it doesn't stop them.

          2) Racist social conservatives. What looks like social injustice is actually just the natural order of things. Downtrodden minorities aren't really downtrodden, they're just in their natural place as inferiors as determined by our perfect and blind meritocracy. Women aren't discriminated against, they are rightly excluded from demanding jobs because they aren't as capable. These are biological facts that cannot be changed, so there is no point to social programs that attempt to address these issues.

          McDaniel is clearly in the Bureaucrat camp, being as he "specializes in the study of intelligence and other predictors of job performance." He also claims, after stating several (unproven) aspects of the intelligence he is testing: "The use of intelligence tests in screening job applicants has substantial economic benefits for organizations." I have no reason to think he is racist or sexist, but I guarantee those who are will glom onto this study and refuse to let go.

          This has been done
    • by Illserve (56215)
      (I have a Big Head), so I'm not having a defensive reaction, and I think it's a very reasonable idea.

      But there is a weakness study, having skimmed it.

      It could be the case that most of us exist in a group evenly clustered around the mean of Intelligence and head size, with no correlation between the two. Yet there might be a second group of people in which something hasn't quite worked out during development, they're missing brain volume and are therefore dumber.

      This would mean the study is technically c
  • Missing Word? (Score:2, Redundant)

    by NickFortune (613926)
    "Bigger Brains Make Smarter People Study" says who, precisely?

    And while we're at it, study what?

  • Elephants (Score:5, Funny)

    by onion2k (203094) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @10:03AM (#12850631) Homepage
    The average Asian elephant has a brain mass of 7.8kg.

    I for one welcome our supremely intelligent, prehensile nosed overlords.
    • by Eric604 (798298) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @10:40AM (#12850840)
      Ofcource I don't have to tell you that a larger body requires a larger brain. So more accurate would be: iq=brainsize/bodysize. Size could be mass, volume or area and may not be linear.

      To verify this I will conduct an experiment: I will amputate my feet and measure my iq before and afterwards.

  • Makes sense (Score:5, Funny)

    by m50d (797211) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @10:06AM (#12850650) Homepage Journal
    I'm intelligent, and my friends always say I'm big-headed
  • So...the phrenologists were right after all?
  • My head's so damn big that I have to cut the bands off hats to make them fit.

    It's so big my mother couldn't bear to look at me for the first year of my life.

    Oh yes, my headbutting skills are truly devastating and apparently my mental prowess is as well.

    Now if only I could get a date...

    ...oh the sweet irony of natural selection.

    • That's too bad because intelligence is also correlated to how much quality time your mother spends with you in early life.
  • Jules: Do you know what they call a Quarter Pounder with cheese in France?
    Brett: No.
    Jules: Royale with cheese. Do you know why they call it a Royale with cheese?
    Brett: Because of the metric system?
    Jules: Check out the big brain on Brett!
  • OK, I can only assume that this would be true for most species, also... so what I'm wondering is, what non-human animals have bigger brains than humans? Any biologist geeks here know this? And if this *is* true, and there are animals with larger brains then ours, then it may be time to re-evaluate what we traditionally think of intelligent. Personally, I think that humans are an evolutionary dead end.
  • by kiltedtaco (213773) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @10:20AM (#12850725) Homepage
    Did anyone else read the headline as: "Bigger brains make smarter people study, says ______"?
  • If you lose the penis measuring contest, try the brain measuring contest. Just what some people need need, something else to bitch about.
  • But I know some fat-headed idiots, and some fleshy weaklings. The size of the anatomy may indicate capacity, but its development is an independent variable and a large factor in actual ability.
  • by TrentL (761772) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @10:22AM (#12850736) Homepage
    ....which race has, on average, the biggest brain? Any talk of brain size vs intelligence always leads to this question. It will be interesting to see what kind of conclusions are drawn, and how they will be interpreted by the general public.
  • I don't buy it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Antonymous Flower (848759) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @10:25AM (#12850750) Homepage
    Jeez, I hope not all Ph.D's are landed as easily as this guy's must have been. This is nothing more than modern phrenology. Here's a link to the actual publication: http://www.vcu.edu/uns/Releases/2005/june/McDaniel -Big%20Brain.pdf [vcu.edu]

    It's mostly a literature review, which obviously attempts to use the 'majority must be right' fallacy to some mysterious end. The guy's an 'industrial psychologist,' though, so go figure.

    To argue something so bold and broad that the size of the brain is an indicator for intelligence is frighteningly naive. If you leave your computer for a second and go meet a few people, you'll quickly realize that people with little heads have no problem outsmarting people with wide hats. This is about on par with 'people with big noses have big johnsons.' Don't read this publication if you're expecting any insight on anything other than a statistical analysis of random literature. You won't find any discussion of neuroplasticity here. I've a question I'd like to ask this guy: how come people 3 feet tall are smarter than you?

    Jupiter is fucking huge, but let me assure you, I'd rather be back home. Bigger is not always better.
    • While I don't have the qualifications to judge this particular paper,
      meta-analyses of previous studies are a common and acceptable sort of research. If you can show that he gave too much weight to a badly designed study, or that he is overly-broad in his conclusions, those would be valid lines of criticism. But meta-analysis is not argument ad populum.

      Then you advise people to back away from the actual studies, and go "meet a few people". This seems to demonstrate a deep misunderstanding of the con
  • When I graduated high school, they had to custom order my graduation cap, because they didn't have any ones big enough in stock.

    And it was still really tight...
    • notice this isn't a story about the stuffman's graduation from college! the study is obviously false.

      macdonald's must love a study like this. "Scientists agree! Macdonald's has helped shape a better society for over six decades!"
      • Hah!

        I'm still doing the college thing... 4 years down, 2 to go... for my undergrad degree ;)

        I guess tat part of the brain that says "go to class and do your work" got damaged by putting on the too-tight graduation cap.
  • by yagu (721525) <yayagu.gmail@com> on Saturday June 18, 2005 @10:30AM (#12850780) Journal

    As one other poster noted, Einstein had a brain that only fell in the range of "normal", giving lie to the theory size alone is an indicator of likely intelligence. Here's another interesting article [yahoo.com] I coincidentally read a couple days ago.

    A couple of interesting things to take from this article:

    • brain size relates closely to gender
    • there are notable physiological differences in brains along gender lines
    • however, there are not noticable differences in intelligence between genders
    • but, there are differences in how intelligence manifests between the genders.

    Before drawing conclusions on brain size and correlation with intelligence therein, read this article... it sheds far more light on this discussion than does the research "summary".

    Interestingly, even though men and women have fairly significant differences in brain sizes, this article shows that women's brains develop differently than mens, with density in different regions and layers possibly offsetting size differences. I'll not go over the entire article, read it.... it's good.

    Sidebar: Oh, and by the way, my brain is so small, I use the extra space inside my skull to store my CD collection.

    • Yes, and nobody else seems to be picking up on this, but what the *fsck* is intelligence? Is it how much you have memorized? Is it how fast you can do mental math? Is it your ability to identify patterns? Is it your analytical ability (again how do you measure that)? Is it your abstract ability? Or is it just some bogus number cranked out by a standardized test full of a bunch of arbitrary nonsense? I doubt any modern test for intelligence would identify Einstein as a genius simply because the ability to d
    • "As one other poster noted, Einstein had a brain that only fell in the range of "normal", giving lie to the theory size alone is an indicator of likely intelligence."

      Einstein is just a single data point, and possibly an outlier.
    • Interestingly enough, most smart females I know with large heads tend to be good at maths and science, traditionally male strongpoints.

      However this probably isn't statistically valid, since because of personal bias I don't tend to consider anyone smart unless they are good at maths and science to begin with. Also, since I am a slashdotter, the sample space is very small. To be honest, I think my theory is garbage but it is a fun coincidence.

  • Bigger Brains Make Smarter People Study Says

    Use a comma, Sideshow Bob!
  • by InstantCrisis (178129) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @10:38AM (#12850825)
    I had thought this correlation was old news, and that the direction of causality was that people who use their brains more develop more ganglia, etc.... Neural plasticity continues throughout one's life. People who don't use their brains experience faster brain shrinkage when their older, putting them at higher risk for dementia. This is why the elderly are advised to do crossword puzzles and whatnot (from the nun and related studies).

    What's disturbing is the age at which our brains start to shrink and our cognitive functioning declines. I've done a lot of neuropsych assessment, and the norm tables for the instruments show turning points (depending on what is being measured) as early as age 17, and as late as the late 20s. I believe I remember reading that brain size significantly begins shrinking in the early 30s, and the rate is positively correlated with blood pressure.

    Use it or lose it. Avoid salt.
  • Nonsense! (Score:2, Insightful)

    Shame on Slashdot for featuring this nonsense. Your homework for the weekend is to read "The Mismeasure of Man" by Stephen Jay Gould. Bad ideas from the 19th century should not be featured as science in the 21st century.
  • In regard to research, just because something has been found to be a factor doesn't mean that it is the only factor. Einstein's brain was smaller than the average male. [emory.edu] His brain weighed about 1230 grams where most adult males average around 1400 grams. Size and volume of a brain may not be the only factor in intelligence. Einstein's brain showed a number of characteristics which may lead to higher cognitive thinking.
  • then that makes this guy [thesmokinggun.com] a genius
  • I don't think this is valid at all. It reminds me of what I have come across in the west as a black African. Many people here think all Africa is HOT and that temperatures are in the 40+ degrees Celcius, and that that's why we are black!

    They find it hard to believe that in places like Nairobi, Kampala and even Kinshasa, one needs a sweater/jacket at night. Heck, there are rivers formed by ice too. They do not believe this. I had to have one check the BBC weather website to see what I was talking about.

    Whil

  • Neanderthals ... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Pandemis (31296)
    ...had bigger brains: 1200-1700 cm skull capacity (slightly greater than modern humans) [wikipedia.org], which made them too smart for their own good and were driven out of the marketplace by the slightly less smart (modern humans). A quick scan of current news gives ample evidence that the current model of hominidae is successful not for it's intelligence so much as it's predisposition for lying, cheating, killing, and, well, dominating.
  • All of my hats that fit came from http://www.bigheadcaps.com/ [bigheadcaps.com].

    Having a big head is quite annoying because things that don't have sizes, like hard hats, don't fit me, and unless I want to get a custom molded hard hat, I can't really wear one. Seriously, I have made sales clercks swear when I try on the largest helmet they have and it doesn't fit.
  • This sounds too much like Phrenology [wikipedia.org] and Craniometry [wikipedia.org]... Some of the same stuff the Nazi party used to show the supposed inferiority of other races. Then there was Pieter Camper who likened non-European human skull shapes to that of apes. This research field is the "cold fusion" of sociology...
  • According to McDaniel, 'for all age and sex groups, it is now very clear ...'

    So, how can I sign up for one of these sex groups?
  • by CAIMLAS (41445)
    I can't find a big enough hat... for either head. Seriously. I feel downright descriminated against.
  • by An Onerous Coward (222037) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @11:46AM (#12851151) Homepage
    I was really irked by the conclusion of this paper. Specifically, "Tiedmann (1836) was correct to conclude that intelligence and brain volume are meaningfully related." Now, even if we grant the premise that the current paper is correct in asserting the relationship, how does that mean that Tiedmann was justified in making the connection at the time he did? Imagine that in 1504, some monk had correctly guessed the speed of light because he figured it to be a billion times as fast as his own walking speed. Just because he came to the right conclusion doesn't mean that he was right in coming to that conclusion.

    Given the state of the social sciences in the 1830's, I have a hard time believing that Tiedmann's research was anything but a mish-mash of bad techniques, preconceived bias, and probably blatant racism.
  • by Diamon (13013) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @12:04PM (#12851245)
    How long until we have H3B4L CR4N1UM 3NL4RG3M3NT spam?

    However, it would actually might be useful. If you buy it, you are dumb and when you stop buying it, your intelligence has obviously increased.
  • I took this guy's Organisational Management course as part of my degree requirement. The class was a complete joke...
  • a shrinking brain?

    Seems recently I started to read something about disease being related to higher intelligence...

    this must mean disease makes your brain larger...

    isn't alzhimers a disease?

    I need more coffee.... gulp gulp...

    Ah now I understand....

    its a trial and error process to figuire out what makes people intelligent and this is their latest "educated guess"..

    maybe they just need more coffee so to wake up the other 90% of their brain...
  • I can't believe this stuff passes for science.

    I don't look it, but I've got an enormous head. I can't wear anything but an xL hat. I know this is utter crap because I know many quite intelligent people, people I consider as intelligent as I, and the running joke is about my big ass head. I've gone one buddy.. if I toss my hat on him, he looks like he's got progeria because he's got a pea-head and he's skinny. Think bony adult looking child with grown-ups hat on.

    This is like someone saying the sky is g
  • Concluded Bigger Genitals makes Happier People.

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