Are Bigger Brains Better?

@article{Chittka2009AreBB,
  title={Are Bigger Brains Better?},
  author={L. Chittka and J. Niven},
  journal={Current Biology},
  year={2009},
  volume={19},
  pages={R995-R1008}
}
Attempts to relate brain size to behaviour and cognition have rarely integrated information from insects with that from vertebrates. Many insects, however, demonstrate that highly differentiated motor repertoires, extensive social structures and cognition are possible with very small brains, emphasising that we need to understand the neural circuits, not just the size of brain regions, which underlie these feats. Neural network analyses show that cognitive features found in insects, such as… Expand
Information processing in miniature brains
TLDR
There is an urgent need to understand the full neuron-to-neuron circuitry underlying various forms of information processing to explore brain function comprehensively, and to understand how (and how easily) cognitive capacities might evolve in the face of pertinent selection pressures in the invertebrates. Expand
Brain size predicts learning abilities in bees
TLDR
This study shows that other bee species aside from the long studied honeybees and bumblebees, can be used in cognitive experiments and opens the door to explore the importance of relative brain sizes in cognitive tasks for insects and its consequences for species survival in a changing world. Expand
Investment in higher order central processing regions is not constrained by brain size in social insects
TLDR
The comparative analyses suggest that brain organization in ants is shaped more by natural selection imposed by visual demands than intrinsic design limitations, and there is no universal size constraint on brain organization within or among species. Expand
Brain size predicts learning abilities in bees
TLDR
It is found that most species can learn to associate a colour with a reward, yet some do so better than others; species with larger brains—both absolute and relative to body size—exhibited enhanced performance to learn the reward-colour association. Expand
1 Ants – Individual and Social Cognition
Perhaps the first question about ants’ individual cognition is whether their tiny brains are sufficient for solving intellectual problems. Darwin (1981) recognized this and considered the brain of anExpand
Costs and benefits of evolving a larger brain: doubts over the evidence that large brains lead to better cognition
When trying to understand the evolution of cognition, whole brain size is often used as a proxy for cognitive ability (Healy & Rowe 2007; Chittka & Niven 2009). This is because it is challenging toExpand
Lessons from miniature brains: Cognition cheap, memory expensive (sentience linked to active movement?)
Studies on invertebrate minds suggest that the neural machinery for basic cognition is cheap, and that bigger brains are probably associated with greater memory storage rather than more advancedExpand
Peeking Inside the Lizard Brain: Neuron Numbers in Anolis and Its Implications for Cognitive Performance and Vertebrate Brain Evolution.
TLDR
Estimates of neuron numbers and density in two species of lizard, Anolis cristatellus and A. evermanni, are presented, suggesting that neuron number anddensity in lizard brains scale similarly to endothermic vertebrates in contrast to the differences observed in brain to body mass relationships. Expand
Brain Modularity in Arthropods: Individual Neurons That Support “What” But Not “Where” Memories
TLDR
Physiological evidence is provided that the memory traces regarding “what” and “where” are stored separately in the arthropod brain. Expand
Social Cognition and Cortical Function
The human brain sets us apart from the rest of our primate relatives. Humans have large brains compared with other primate species. Specific areas of brain, especially within the neocortex, haveExpand
...
1
2
3
4
5
...

References

SHOWING 1-10 OF 231 REFERENCES
On Being Small: Brain Allometry in Ants
TLDR
It is shown that ants have considerably smaller brains than any ant-sized vertebrate would have, and that this result holds even if the relatively higher exoskeleton weights of ants (as compared to endoskeleton weight of mammals) are taken into account. Expand
Evolution in the Social Brain
TLDR
It is suggested that it may have been the particular demands of the more intense forms of pairbonding that was the critical factor that triggered this evolutionary development. Expand
Functional Trade-Offs in White Matter Axonal Scaling
TLDR
The heterogeneous white matter composition found in large brains reflects a metabolically constrained trade-off that reduces both volume and conduction time, and in select sets of communicating fibers, large brains reduce transmission delays and metabolic firing costs at the expense of increased volume. Expand
Development of Elementary Numerical Abilities: A Neuronal Model
TLDR
The computer simulations account for several phenomena in the numerical domain, including the distance effect and Fechner's law for numbers, and demonstrate that infants' numerosity detection abilities may be explained without assuming that infants can count. Expand
Social intelligence, innovation, and enhanced brain size in primates
  • S. Reader, K. Laland
  • Psychology, Medicine
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • 2002
TLDR
It is established that social learning, innovation, and tool use frequencies are positively correlated with species' relative and absolute “executive” brain volumes, after controlling for phylogeny and research effort. Expand
Brains, Lifestyles and Cognition: Are There General Trends?
TLDR
From apes to birds, fish and beetles, a few common principles appear to have influenced the evolution of brains and cognition in widely divergent taxa. Expand
Revisiting the cognitive buffer hypothesis for the evolution of large brains
  • D. Sol
  • Biology, Medicine
  • Biology Letters
  • 2008
TLDR
Evidence in birds and mammals is accumulating that a large brain facilitates the construction of novel and altered behavioural patterns and that this ability helps dealing with new ecological challenges more successfully, supporting the cognitive-buffer interpretation of the evolution of large brains. Expand
A critique of comparative studies of brain size
  • S. Healy, C. Rowe
  • Psychology, Medicine
  • Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
  • 2006
TLDR
There are a number of substantial problems with some of the assumptions that underpin the hypotheses that explain variation in whole brain size in a range of vertebrate species, pointing out that now is the time to substantiate these results with data from experimental manipulations. Expand
The Processing of Color, Motion, and Stimulus Timing Are Anatomically Segregated in the Bumblebee Brain
TLDR
It is hypothesized that the anatomical layers of the lobula are the structural basis for the segregation of visual information into color, motion, and stimulus timing in the brain. Expand
Structural, Functional and Developmental Convergence of the Insect Mushroom Bodies with Higher Brain Centers of Vertebrates
  • S. Farris
  • Biology, Medicine
  • Brain, Behavior and Evolution
  • 2008
TLDR
It is demonstrated that evolutionary increases in higher brain center size and intrinsic neuron number are associated with flexibility in food acquisition behaviors in both vertebrates and insects, extending the understanding of how evolutionarily constrained neural substrates might converge under shared adaptive landscapes. Expand
...
1
2
3
4
5
...