Humans and baboon neurons

The study by neuroscience scientists states that the human brain contains 100 + billion neurons , but the new research says only 14 billion .  humans and baboon share same type of neurons, like 86 billion- according to brazilian neuroscientist Dr Suzana Herculano-Houzel.

With the help of colleagues, she found out the true figure in a rather grisly manner.The brains belonged to four adult males aged 50, 51, 54 and 71 who donated them to science – and none had died of a neurological disease.  Dr Herculano-Houzel told Nature: ‘We found that on average the human brain has 86billion neurons.

And not one that we looked at so far has the 100billion.  ‘Even though it may sound like a small difference the 14billion neurons amount to pretty much the number of neurons that a baboon brain has or almost half the number of neurons in the gorilla brain. So that’s a pretty large difference actually.’  The figure came as a surprise because most textbooks and articles about neurons, which are nerve cells that carry messages around, agree that there are 100billion of them in a human brain.  Dr Herculano-Houzel, however, was unable to find out where this figure had come from.

Her study represents a leap forward for neuroscience, but it only came about after she had come to terms with making ‘brain soup’.  She told the science journal: ‘It took me a couple of months to make peace with this idea that I was going to take somebody’s brain or an animal’s brain and turn it into soup. But the thing is we have been learning so much by this method we’ve been getting numbers that people had not been able to get.

‘It’s really just one more method that’s not any worse than just chopping your brain into little pieces.’ Although her results mean our brain power has been downgraded, we still have superior minds to other primates because we have more neurons in the brain that are devoted to cognition – mental processes – and behaviour as a whole.

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