Outsourcing Brain Capacity

May 22, 2010 By arne hendriks 0

“But what do we do with the brain?”, was the first question a neighbor asked when he heard of the ambitions of The Incredible Shrinking Man to shrink the human species to 50 centimeters. It’s a good question.  Although not proven beyond a doubt, there seems to be a strong correlation between brain size and intelligence. And even if we were willing to sacrifice size it is not realistic to presume we’d also sacrifice intelligence. So this clearly is an issue that needs to be addressed. Surprisingly, according to John Hawks, for the past 5.000 years or so the brain has actually been getting smaller by more then 10% of its average size of 1350 cubic centimeters. “As to why is it shrinking, perhaps in big societies, as opposed to hunter-gatherer lifestyles, we can rely on other people for more things, can specialize our behavior to a greater extent, and maybe not need our brains as much.”

If the evolution of the brain enables the outsourcing of some or most of its bulk activity because supportive networks are provided, maybe the brain could be much smaller, and shrinking could be beneficial.