Intelligent Design Mind Neuroscience

At Mind Matters News: Can science really engineer a bigger human brain?

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Computational neuroscientist Daniel Graham wonders why we would bother. There is no strict relationship between brain size and intellectual achievement:

In a three-part series at Psychology Today, Smith College computational neuroscientist Daniel Graham, author of An Internet in Your Head: A New Paradigm for How the Brain Works (2021), tackles that question:

First, most parts of the human brain are already larger than they should be for an animal life form of our size. But the difference is hardly commensurate with average human intelligence vs. average chimpanzee intelligence…

Meanwhile, there’s also the fact that many humans get by — in human society — with a split brain or only half a brain. As Graham notes, Albert Einstein’s brain, as such, was not unusual.

Second, the human brain has been shrinking …

News, “Can science really engineer a bigger human brain?” at Mind Matters News

Studies with guppies did not show that breeding bigger brains consistently led to smarter guppies, he says.

Takehome: The human brain has actually been shrinking in the last 30,000 years, the same period that has also shown great intellectual achievements.


You may also wish to read:

Researchers: Prolonged meditation alters the brain. The changes were detected mainly in the frontal and parietal lobes. Andrew Newburg and colleagues found changes in brain functional connectivity in participants in a seven-day Ignatian spirituality retreat in Pennsylvania.

and

Do larger brains make us human? Is that all? Brain organoid studies suggest a “key genetic switch” that makes human brains grow larger than ape brains. Some researchers believe that our diet led to a larger brain but they differ as to which food was the ultimate brain booster. Are we missing something here?

16 Replies to “At Mind Matters News: Can science really engineer a bigger human brain?

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    I remember someone arguing that one limitation the brain size could be the relatively slow rate at which impulses travel along the neural networks in the brain, that if the brain became larger timing issues could become a problem.

    True or not, it makes you wonder, since humans can design computers that can transmit information at the speed of light – or close to it – why The Intelligent Designer didn’t do something similar.

  2. 2
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    since humans can design computers that can transmit information at the speed of light – or close to it – why The Intelligent Designer didn’t do something similar.

    :)))) The Intelligent Designer didn’t do something similar because humans can .

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    Seversky, in comparing brains to computers, asks, “since humans can design computers that can transmit information at the speed of light – or close to it – why The Intelligent Designer didn’t do something similar?”

    Who says that God didn’t design the brain, not only similar, but far better than man has designed computers?

    In regards to the speed of light, and as the following article notes, “It’s certainly true that electrical activity in the brain is synchronised over distances that cannot be easily explained. Electrical signals travel too slowly to do this job, so something else must be at work.,,, It’s a big jump to assume that photons do this job.”

    The Puzzling Role Of Biophotons In The Brain – Dec. 17, 2010
    Excerpt: In recent years, a growing body of evidence shows that photons play an important role in the basic functioning of cells. Most of this evidence comes from turning the lights off and counting the number of photons that cells produce. It turns out, much to many people’s surprise, that many cells, perhaps even most, emit light as they work.
    In fact, it looks very much as if many cells use light to communicate. There’s certainly evidence that bacteria, plants and even kidney cells communicate in this way. Various groups have even shown that rats brains are literally alight thanks to the photons produced by neurons as they work.,,,
    ,,, earlier this year, one group showed that spinal neurons in rats can actually conduct light.
    ,, Rahnama and co point out that neurons contain many light sensitive molecules, such as porphyrin rings, flavinic, pyridinic rings, lipid chromophores and aromatic amino acids. In particular, mitochondria, the machines inside cells which produce energy, contain several prominent chromophores.
    The presence of light sensitive molecules makes it hard to imagine how they might not be not influenced by biophotons.,,,
    They go on to suggest that the light channelled by microtubules can help to co-ordinate activities in different parts of the brain. It’s certainly true that electrical activity in the brain is synchronised over distances that cannot be easily explained. Electrical signals travel too slowly to do this job, so something else must be at work.,,,
    (So) It’s a big jump to assume that photons do this job.
    http://www.technologyreview.co.....the-brain/

    Contrary to what Seversky apparently naively believes via his idiotic Darwinian worldview, computers simply don’t hold a candle when compared to our ‘beyond belief’ brain.

    As the following article stated, “the brain’s complexity is beyond anything they’d imagined, almost to the point of being beyond belief,,, One synapse, by itself, is more like a microprocessor–with both memory-storage and information-processing elements–than a mere on/off switch. In fact, one synapse may contain on the order of 1,000 molecular-scale switches. A single human brain has more switches than all the computers and routers and Internet connections on Earth.”

    Human brain has more switches than all computers on Earth – November 2010
    Excerpt: They found that the brain’s complexity is beyond anything they’d imagined, almost to the point of being beyond belief, says Stephen Smith, a professor of molecular and cellular physiology and senior author of the paper describing the study: …One synapse, by itself, is more like a microprocessor–with both memory-storage and information-processing elements–than a mere on/off switch. In fact, one synapse may contain on the order of 1,000 molecular-scale switches. A single human brain has more switches than all the computers and routers and Internet connections on Earth.
    https://www.cnet.com/news/human-brain-has-more-switches-than-all-computers-on-earth/

    And even that turned out to be, in all likelihood, an underestimation. As the following 2017 article noted, “Because the dendrites are nearly 100 times larger in volume than the neuronal centers,,,, the large number of dendritic spikes taking place could mean that the brain has more than 100 times the computational capacity than was previously thought.”

    Brain is 10 times more active than previously measured, UCLA researchers find – Dan Gordon | March 9, 2017
    Excerpt:,, UCLA team discovered that dendrites are not just passive conduits. Their research showed that dendrites are electrically active in animals that are moving around freely, generating nearly 10 times more spikes than somas. The finding challenges the long-held belief that spikes in the soma are the primary way in which perception, learning and memory formation occur.,,,
    ,,, somas generated only all-or-nothing spikes, much like digital computers do.,,,
    “We found that dendrites are hybrids that do both analog and digital computations, which are therefore fundamentally different from purely digital computers, but somewhat similar to quantum computers that are analog,” said Mehta,,,
    “A fundamental belief in neuroscience has been that neurons are digital devices,,,
    ,,,This is a major departure from what neuroscientists have believed for about 60 years.”
    Because the dendrites are nearly 100 times larger in volume than the neuronal centers, Mehta said, the large number of dendritic spikes taking place could mean that the brain has more than 100 times the computational capacity than was previously thought.
    http://newsroom.ucla.edu/relea.....ommunicate

    Shoot, just analyzing a single neuronal synapse of the ‘beyond belief’ brain would take a man-made computer 2000 years to do even though it is assumed that the underlying technology behind computers speeds up by an order of magnitude each year.

    “Complexity Brake” Defies Evolution – August 8, 2012
    Excerpt: Consider a neuronal synapse — the presynaptic terminal has an estimated 1000 distinct proteins. Fully analyzing their possible interactions would take about 2000 years. Or consider the task of fully characterizing the visual cortex of the mouse — about 2 million neurons. Under the extreme assumption that the neurons in these systems can all interact with each other, analyzing the various combinations will take about 10 million years…, even though it is assumed that the underlying technology speeds up by an order of magnitude each year.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....62961.html

    And in regards to processing information, man-made computers, again, simply don’t hold a candle to the brain when it comes to how much more sophisticated the processing of information is in the brain than it is in a computer.

    As the following article states, “”The appearance of high-dimensional cavities when the brain is processing information means that the neurons in the network react to stimuli in an extremely organized manner,” “It is as if the brain reacts to a stimulus by building then razing a tower of multi-dimensional blocks, starting with rods (1D), then planks (2D), then cubes (3D), and then more complex geometries with 4D, 5D, etc. The progression of activity through the brain resembles a multi-dimensional sandcastle that materializes out of the sand and then disintegrates,”
    “We found a world that we had never imagined. There are tens of millions of these objects even in a small speck of the brain, up through seven dimensions. In some networks, we even found structures with up to eleven dimensions.”
    The findings indicate the brain processes stimuli by creating these complex cliques and cavities,,,
    Hess says the discovery brings us closer to understanding “one of the fundamental mysteries of neuroscience: the link between the structure of the brain and how it processes information.”,,,”

    Brain Architecture: Scientists Discover 11 Dimensional Structures That Could Help Us Understand How the Brain Works – By Hannah Osborne – June 12, 2017
    Excerpt: Scientists studying the brain have discovered that the organ operates on up to 11 different dimensions, creating multiverse-like structures that are “a world we had never imagined.”
    By using an advanced mathematical system, researchers were able to uncover architectural structures that appears when the brain has to process information, before they disintegrate into nothing.,,,
    Each neuron connects to every other neuron in a very specific way to produce a precise geometric object. The more neurons in a clique, the higher the dimensions.
    In some cases, researchers discovered cliques with up to 11 different dimensions.
    The structures assembled formed enclosures for high-dimensional holes that the team have dubbed cavities. Once the brain has processed the information, the clique and cavity disappears.
    “The appearance of high-dimensional cavities when the brain is processing information means that the neurons in the network react to stimuli in an extremely organized manner,” said one of the researchers, Ran Levi.
    “It is as if the brain reacts to a stimulus by building then razing a tower of multi-dimensional blocks, starting with rods (1D), then planks (2D), then cubes (3D), and then more complex geometries with 4D, 5D, etc. The progression of activity through the brain resembles a multi-dimensional sandcastle that materializes out of the sand and then disintegrates,” he said.,,,
    “We found a world that we had never imagined. There are tens of millions of these objects even in a small speck of the brain, up through seven dimensions. In some networks, we even found structures with up to eleven dimensions.”
    The findings indicate the brain processes stimuli by creating these complex cliques and cavities,,,
    Hess says the discovery brings us closer to understanding “one of the fundamental mysteries of neuroscience: the link between the structure of the brain and how it processes information.”,,,
    http://www.newsweek.com/brain-.....rks-624300

    As biologist Brian Ford stated, “since the neuron processes data flexibly and on disparate levels, and is therefore far superior to any digital system,,,, the human brain may be a trillion times more capable than we imagine, and “artificial intelligence” a grandiose misnomer.”

    “The brain is not a supercomputer in which the neurons are transistors; rather it is as if each individual neuron is itself a computer, and the brain a vast community of microscopic computers. But even this model is probably too simplistic since the neuron processes data flexibly and on disparate levels, and is therefore far superior to any digital system. If I am right, the human brain may be a trillion times more capable than we imagine, and “artificial intelligence” a grandiose misnomer.”
    – Brian Ford – research biologist – The Secret Power of a Single Cell – 2009

    And as if that was not more than enough to prove that the brain is far, far, far, superior to any man-made computer, in terms of efficiency, “a microelectronics processor functioning with the capacity of a human brain would need at least ten megawatts to operate. This is equivalent to the output of a small hydroelectric power plant. The human brain needs only about ten watts.”

    Chiral Induced Spin Selectivity (CISS) James Tour – December 2016
    Excerpt: Kwabena Boahen estimated that a microelectronics processor functioning with the capacity of a human brain would need at least ten megawatts to operate. This is equivalent to the output of a small hydroelectric power plant. The human brain needs only about ten watts.6
    Might CISS (Chiral Induced Spin Selectivity) help to explain biology’s secret to efficiency?
    http://inference-review.com/ar.....electivity

    Thus Seversky was clearly, and profoundly, mistaken in his belief that God did not “do something similar” to what man has accomplished in designing computers. Again, man-made computers simply don’t hold a candle when compared to our ‘beyond belief’ human brain.

    Too bad Seversky never seems to ever use any of his ‘beyond belief’ brain to figure out that his worldview of Darwinian evolution is ‘not even wrong’.

    Quote and verse:

    “Evolution by natural selection, for instance, which Charles Darwin originally conceived as a great theory, has lately come to function more as an antitheory, called upon to cover up embarrassing experimental shortcomings and legitimize findings that are at best questionable and at worst not even wrong. Your protein defies the laws of mass action? Evolution did it! Your complicated mess of chemical reactions turns into a chicken? Evolution! The human brain works on logical principles no computer can emulate? Evolution is the cause!”
    – Robert B. Laughlin, Nobel laureate – Physics – A Different Universe: Reinventing Physics from the Bottom Down (New York: Basic Books, 2005), 168-69)

    Psalm 111:2
    The works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.

  4. 4
    Seversky says:

    Bornagain77/3

    Who says that God didn’t design the brain, not only similar, but far better than man has designed computers?

    If the brain is so much better then computers then why are we bothering to design computers?

    In regards to the speed of light, and as the following article notes, “It’s certainly true that electrical activity in the brain is synchronised over distances that cannot be easily explained. Electrical signals travel too slowly to do this job, so something else must be at work.,,, It’s a big jump to assume that photons do this job.”

    If the brain were able to transmit signals at near-light speed there would be no need for synchronization.

    Contrary to what Seversky apparently naively believes via his idiotic Darwinian worldview, computers simply don’t hold a candle when compared to our ‘beyond belief’ brain.

    That the brain is an amazingly complex organ is not in dispute but, to answer the question I posed above, we build computers, supercomputers and now quantum computers because they can perform calculations of which the human brain is simply incapable.

    As the following article states, “”The appearance of high-dimensional cavities when the brain is processing information means that the neurons in the network react to stimuli in an extremely organized manner,” “It is as if the brain reacts to a stimulus by building then razing a tower of multi-dimensional blocks, starting with rods (1D), then planks (2D), then cubes (3D), and then more complex geometries with 4D, 5D, etc. The progression of activity through the brain resembles a multi-dimensional sandcastle that materializes out of the sand and then disintegrates,”

    That is very fascinating research. If their modelling really has revealed multi-dimensional naturalistic processing being performed in the human brain then they may have taken us closer to solving the hard problem of consciousness, finding a naturalistic process which may bridge the gap between conscious experience and the neurological processes occurring coincidentally in the physical brain.

    Too bad Seversky never seems to ever use any of his ‘beyond belief’ brain to figure out that his worldview of Darwinian evolution is ‘not even wrong’.

    Or maybe my “‘beyond belief’ brain” is open to possibilities which are forever inaccessible to those whose acceptance of science is limited to only that which is consonant with their religious presuppositions.

  5. 5
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    Sewersky
    we build computers, supercomputers and now quantum computers because they can perform calculations of which the human brain is simply incapable.

    :))) Hahaha ,Sewersky thinks that God made humans with main goal to do calculations. Hey Sewer maybe God had other goals in Mind.

    PS: Sewer can’t detect the difference between a thing and a being.

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    Seversky thinks that computers are far better than human brains simply because computers can calculate much faster than humans can calculate. But alas, as impressive as that feat might be for computers, (which were created by humans by the way), computers still fail to mimic anything like genuine human intelligence. This is proven by the fact that the most powerful super-computers in the world, given all their computational power, are still stopped dead in their tracks by something as ‘easy’ as writing a simple sentence,

    This short sentence, “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog” is calculated by Winston Ewert, in this following video at the 10 minute mark, to contain 1000 bits of algorithmic specified complexity, (i.e. functional information), and to thus exceed the Universal Probability Bound (UPB) of 500 bits set by Dr. William Dembski, (and to thus greatly exceed the computational power of any computer to ever create that simple sentence by brute computational force of simply trying different sequences of letters.)

    Proposed Information Metric: Conditional Kolmogorov Complexity – Winston Ewert – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fm3mm3ofAYU
    Of note, the phrase “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog” contains every letter in the alphabet.

    To clarify exactly how the 500 bit universal limit is found,

    Dembski’s original value for the universal probability bound is 1 in 10^150,
    10^80, the number of elementary particles in the observable universe.
    10^45, the maximum rate per second at which transitions in physical states can occur.
    10^25, a billion times longer than the typical estimated age of the universe in seconds.
    Thus, 10^150 = 10^80 × 10^45 × 10^25.
    Hence, 10^150 corresponds to an upper limit on the number of physical events that could possibly have occurred since the big bang.
    How many bits would that be:?
    Pu = 10-150, so, -log2 Pu = 498.29 bits
    Call it 500 bits
    (The 500 bits is further specified as a specific type of information. It is specified as Complex Specified Information by Dembski or as Functional Information by Abel to separate it from merely Ordered Sequence Complexity or Random Sequence Complexity; See “Three subsets of sequence complexity”)

    Of related humorous note,

    THAT TIME SOMEONE ACTUALLY TESTED THE INFINITE MONKEY THEOREM (AND WHO CAME UP WITH IT)
    February 8, 2020
    Excerpt: Regardless of who first put monkeys and typewriters together, the idea has captured the imaginations of many. And in recent times, a few brave researchers have attempted to test the hypothesis and see if they could get monkeys to produce Shakespearean works.
    For instance, in 2003, lecturers and students with the University of Plymouth’s Institute of Digital Arts and Technology (i-DAT) finagled a £2,000 (roughly $3,665 today) grant from the school’s Arts Council to place a single computer and keyboard in the Sulawesi crested macaques enclosure at the Paignton Zoo.
    After a month of monkeying around with the computer, Gum, Heather, Mistletoe, Elmo, Holly and Rowan (the macaques) had produced five pages of nonsense text, but otherwise seemed to limit their screen time to urinating and/or defecating on the computer until such time as it stopped working. According to i-DAT’s director, the project was successful though since, being live-streamed on the internet, it “provided very stimulating and fascinating viewing.”
    Moving on from there to the digital space, a program simulating such a random monkey, this time who could not poop and pee on the computer, was successfully able to create the first 19 letters of The Two Gentlemen of Verona, “VALENTINE. Cease to…” It only took 42,162,500,000 billion billion monkey-years for the virtual monkey to do it.
    In a similar experiment, The Monkey Shakespeare Simulator, after a mere 2,737,850 million billion billion billion monkey-years the virtual monkey produced part of a line from Henry IV: “RUMOUR. Open your ears…”
    Another attempt was made beginning on August 21, 2011. These virtual “monkeys” were actually millions of instances of a computer program running on Amazon’s SC2 cloud, with the program set up to spew out random sequences of nine characters. After only one month, they had (sort of) produced A Lover’s Complaint and were just shy of completing the entirety of Shakespeare’s other works.
    There was a catch, however. Once a “monkey” spewed out a nine-letter sequence that appeared in one of the works, that sequence was considered complete. According to mathematics professor, Dr Ian Steward, this was the only practical way to do the experiment since, “to type up the complete works in the correct order without mistakes would take much longer than the age of the universe.”
    http://www.todayifoundout.com/.....y-theorem/

  7. 7
    ET says:

    seversky:

    True or not, it makes you wonder, since humans can design computers that can transmit information at the speed of light – or close to it – why The Intelligent Designer didn’t do something similar.

    Not required. And heat would be a factor.

  8. 8
    ET says:

    seversky:

    If the brain is so much better then computers then why are we bothering to design computers?

    As a tool to help us.

    If the brain were able to transmit signals at near-light speed there would be no need for synchronization.

    Prove it. And why do we need light speed in such a confined space?

    That the brain is an amazingly complex organ is not in dispute but, to answer the question I posed above, we build computers, supercomputers and now quantum computers because they can perform calculations of which the human brain is simply incapable.

    Total nonsense. Whatever a computer can do humans can also. It just takes us longer. We designed and built the computer. We designed and implemented the programs. Everything computers do traces back to us.

    seversky, your acceptance of science is very, very limited. Your infantile arguments prove that you don’t have a clue.

  9. 9
    ET says:

    The electricity that flows through wires uses electrons. It acts like the game- everything is connected. The electricity that flows through our bodies does so in a very wet environment. Electrons wouldn’t do. Something bigger is required. So ions are used. Mainly sodium and potassium. These have to be pumped in and out of the nerves in order to carry the potential difference to the target.

    Could you imagine sending a near light speed signal to move your arms and legs? In robots the near light speed electricity has to be fed to other parts, like servo controllers, in order to control the movements required. In animals the servos are inherent to the system.

  10. 10
    Querius says:

    Good point, ET. There are some interesting comparisons of brains and computers online.

    For example, the human brain requires only about 10 Watts to run. Humans have profoundly better pattern recognition, massive amounts of memory (perhaps 1 Petabyte), far better information retrieval, lateral thinking, creative thinking, rough risk assessment, and other survival skills. However a computer can accurately compute to DPFP precision the time it will take for a falling boulder to smash it to bits. Even though computers are massively less complicated than humans, I bet even Seversky might admit that they weren’t able to evolve by random chance (but you never know).

    Human brains use neural networks rather than bytes, so there’s no equivalent of setup and hold, clock signals, or race conditions in brains. However, there is indeed research in neural networks such as the following:
    https://news.mit.edu/2020/thousands-artificial-brain-synapses-single-chip-0608

    There’s a widely attributed quote that reads something like this: “Computers are fast, accurate, and stupid. People are slow, inaccurate, and ingenious.” And no, it wasn’t Einstein.

    -Q

  11. 11
    bornagain77 says:

    Seversky states, “If the brain were able to transmit signals at near-light speed there would be no need for synchronization.”

    Seversky reveals his ignorance once again, the synchronization between different parts of the brain is instantaneous. i.e. Communication at light speed CAN”T explain the synchronization! That was the point of the article I cited!

    Sevesky then states, “If their modelling really has revealed multi-dimensional naturalistic processing being performed in the human brain then they may have taken us closer to solving the hard problem of consciousness, finding a naturalistic process which may bridge the gap between conscious experience and the neurological processes occurring coincidentally in the physical brain.”

    Yet, there simply is no ‘naturalistic’ analog to what is happening in the brain in regards to multi-dimensional information processing. PERIOD. For Seversky to slap the word naturalistic on such astonishing, even amazing, multi-dimensional information processing in the brain is simply disingenuous and intellectually dishonest.

    Which is, sadly, par for the course for Seversky

  12. 12
    Querius says:

    Bornagain77 @11,

    Which is, sadly, par for the course for Seversky

    Yes, it’s as pointless as arguing with a flat earther. No amount of evidence or reasoning will ever shake someone like this from their faith in Darwin because the moral and spiritual consequences for them are unacceptable.

    They have no reservations about pontificating on subjects in which they’re ignorant and have no shame when their arguments are easily and repeatedly shot down.

    In my opinion, the only valid response is to post information that corrects or refutes their ignorance–as you’ve done tirelessly and repeatedly–and then move on with the subject rather than being distracted by noise. Anything more than this is a complete waste of time.

    -Q

  13. 13
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Do larger brains make us human? Is that all?

    Larger brain doesn’t even indicate greater intelligence:

    The mouse lemur, a tiny primate whose brain is 1/200th the size of a chimpanzee’s brain, did as well as great apes on a primate intelligence test.
    Deutsches Primatenzentrum (DPZ)/German Primate Center, “Primate brain size does not predict their intelligence” at ScienceDaily (September 25, 2020)

    I sourced that from O’Leary’s article in the Summer 2021 edition of Salvo – excellent magazine.

  14. 14
    Querius says:

    Silver Asiatic,

    There’s also the unexpected evidence of corvid intelligence, which some research indicates is at least equal to if not superior to the great apes:
    https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/crow-as-clever-as-great-apes-study-says

    This is problematic in the sense that researchers in the field consider the ratio of body to brain weight. This helps them explain why whales and elephants aren’t smarter than humans, but fails with corvids and parrots.

    But you probably already knew that. Thanks for the info about Lemurs, which I didn’t know about.

    -Q

  15. 15
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Querius

    No, I didn’t know that – thanks!

    This is problematic in the sense that researchers in the field consider the ratio of body to brain weight. This helps them explain why whales and elephants aren’t smarter than humans, but fails with corvids and parrots.

    They try to compare humans with animals in terms of intelligence as if the rational human mind is the same kind of thing as a chimp’s. That’s a category error.

  16. 16
    Querius says:

    Silver Asiatic,

    Yes. And similarly, even comparing the number of neurons in the brain between various animals results in more questions, such as “Why do African elephants need more neurons than humans?” The OP video notes that the number of connections between neurons is also not a good indicator of intelligence.

    -Q

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