Some thoughts on brain mass

The other day I was watching some birds maneuvering around in some trees.  I was stunned at how they perceived things so well and flew threw the branches with ease.  I’ve never seen a bird hit a branch or miss where it was intending to land.  For them to do that they need a number of qualities:  a very good sense of space, very good sight, a sense of speed, the ability to learn, and so on. 

To achieve this requires great ‘brain power’.  But, yet, look at the size of their brain – its tiny.  Some nuts have greater mass than their brain does . . . and look at what it does.  Not only that, they don’t need the whole brain to fly.  This means that the actual mass used in flying is only a fraction of their brain mass. 

It shows that a lot can be done with a small amount of brain mass.

Now look at our brain.  It is many thousand times larger than a birds.  If the same amount of ability in the little bird brain was continued for the our entire brain mass then we should be like gods, it seems,as our brains are so much larger.  But we’re not.  This is because a lot of our brain mass is not really ‘brain’, so to speak.  A lot of brain mass is supportive tissue that keeps the brain alive and working.

In the brain there are no blood vessels that really go into it.  No doubt one of the reasons for this is because of the iron in the blood which would probably interfere with the electrical functioning of the brain.  As a result, special cells are used to actually take the nutrients from the blood vessels on the surface of the brain and give it to the neurons.  In a way, a whole new nutrient supply system is used in the brain that is used nowhere else (at least, as far as I know). 

The neurons are so touchy with electrical impulses that there are even special cells that surround them to act as ‘electrical insulators’ adding further mass to the brain.  In that sense, a lot of the brain is nothing but an electrical insulator.

It seems that the larger the brain the more this new ‘nutrient supply system’ is needed, increasing the mass of the brain.  It also seems that the more complex and interconnected the brain is the more it requires mass for ‘electrical insulators’, to allow it to work more efficiently.  This shows that theres more to brain mass than ‘brain’.

This entry was posted in Neurology and the brain, Psychology and psychoanalysis, Science and technology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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