New Scientist Piece Reviewed

Richard Hall rhall at uvi.edu
Fri Jan 24 11:24:58 EST 1997


I doubt the human brain will evolve into a more intelligent form since
there is very little selection pressure for more intellect.   In fact,
there is no evidence that the human intellect has increased over the past
5000 or 50,000 years.  Humans have greatly augmented native motor skills
with tools which have allowed more precise representation of complex
intellectual patterns (thoughts.)  Ie, we have found better ways to express
our intellectual tendencies, but are we more intellectually capable...not
likely.

It is true that brain size within a species does not correlate with
intellectual ability, but size is important since intellect does correlate
with the number of organized synaptic connections.  Neurons and their
connections occupy volume.  Hence brain size does indicate "intellectual
capacity" between species.  Here again, there is no evidence that any
humans, mammalian, vertebrate, or invertebrate species has experienced an
increase in intellectual capacity over recorded time.  If increased smarts
increased fitness, it would happen, but the cynic in me thinks winning the
New York lottery would be more "fitting".

I might be able to afford a couple strategic fetal brain implants.

rlh




>>From New Scientist:         My comments are not indented.
>
>              [P L A N E T   S C I E N C E]
>
>         End of the road for brain evolution
>
>         HUMANS are about as smart as they are going to
>         get. Researchers at BT Laboratories in Ipswich
>         have modelled the information-processing
>         capacity of the brain and found that any radical
>         improvement is impossible because of the careful
>         balance maintained between the size and number
>         of neurons and the blood vessels which nourish
>         them. They claim that we have reached our
>         maximum information-processing capacity, or at
>         best are within 20 per cent of it.
>
>This is typical. The notion that size and number has something to do
>with brain processing. In one
>breath the piece talks about not being able to make the brain better
>but the justification is that to
>so would make things TOO BIG...... [cut, cut, cut]................
>The ONLY improvement possible is ratio increase. Since speeds of
>memory ratios are controlled
>by division of a single biological clock frequency it may be possible
>to induce an increase in that
>division but not by considering the brain from the perspective of a
>result of the brain. Electronics.
>
>         Mark Ward
>
>         From New Scientist, 25 Jan 97 =A9 Copyright IPC Magazines 1997
>
>Lee Kent Hempfling...................|lkh at cei.net
>chairman,
>ceo........................|http://www.aston.ac.uk/~batong/Neutronics/
>Neutronics Technologies Corporation..|West Midlands, UK; Arkansas, USA.

Richard Hall
Comparative Animal Physiologist
Division of Sciences and Mathematics
University of the Virgin Islands
St. Thomas, USVI  00802

809-693-1386
rhall at uvi.edu





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