BIGGER is better


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People everywhere are under the impression that bigger is always better. Children automatically go after the biggest gift under the Christmas tree, the adults in our households go after the largest turkeys on Thanksgiving and us young adults tend to go after things that are "biggest" in monetary value. But is bigger necessarily better?  What about a bigger brain size? Does a larger brain mean that someone is smarter? Is someone with a "small" brain not as intelligent?

Clever Brain points out that:

"While it actually helps to have a bigger brain size in collecting and interpreting information, the QUALITY of one's brain isn't always measured by its size, and is gauged by a number of underlying factors."

A "big" brain simply means that your brain mass is larger than the brain mass of others. Clever Brain notes that a larger mass means that you have "more cranial space to perform various mental activities."

When I was younger, my mother would always tease by telling me that I have a "big head." She would then soothe me by saying "Don't worry, having a big head, means your brain is big, so you are smart." Up until a few days ago, I never really thought much of this statement.

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies investigated this matter by running tests on mice.
They found that intelligence is more-so dependent on the cortex of the brain, than brain mass.

In the study, the team manipulated the area sizes of the cortical areas of the mice by using the Emx2 gene. The team noted: 

"Larger or smaller sensory or motor cortical areas were found to impair behavioral performances of the mice, like the ability to run an obstacle course, keep from falling off a rotating rod, and the mice presented lower balance and coordination skills. 'It has been assumed that if a cortical area is larger, it would be more effective in processing information," said the senior author, Dr. Dennis O'Leary, professor in the Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory at the Salk Institute. 'However our findings suggest that the area size that give optimal performance is the one that is best tuned to the context of the neural system within which that area functions."

This finding suggests that cortex size should be relative to the neural system. Intelligence is not based on brain or cortex size but how well that cortex functions with respect to the neural system. 

According to Clever Brain however, there are always ways to maximize your intelligence. One of these ways include: training. By training, Clever Brain means that someone is exposed to knowledge by his or he mother. Because of this, someone has the opportunity to interpret the knowledge provided by his/her mother faster once he/she is born. 

"The same goes with grown-ups; they may have been known as slow learners or may have had mental disabilities, but through proper training and practice, their brains can be developed and improved as well." I always thought of myself as a slow learner when it came to subjects I was not 100% interested in. With math for example, I always told myself that I was "bad" at it. I went through all four years of high school hating math and considering myself a slow learner when in actuality, if I dedicated myself more to understanding the material, or "trained my brain," I probably would have performed better in my math classes.

I think this idea can relates to us college students in terms of studying. When you don't study or study poorly, you either don't do as well on exams as you want or you only remember the material you studied for the exam during the exam and forget shortly after. This happens when we cram. When you study properly, by breaking up the material over a course of several days, making flash cards and carefully reviewing the material, chances are you will perform better. This parallels the idea that the brain can be trained. You can train yourself to better capture and interpret material by having good study habits.

To answer the question at hand, a large brain size is NOT an indicator of intelligence. In a sense, the assumption that a larger brain size means someone is more intelligent, is similar to the Texas sharp-shooter problem. There are several factors that determine one's intelligence, but we pinpoint one that seems to relate and say that that factor is the sole one. In this case, we wouldn't be entirely correct.
Any thoughts?

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