Illustration for article titled Human Brains Better Than Squids, Science Decides

Well, perhaps not better per se, but scientists now believe that experiments carried out seventy years ago on squid brains may have given us an entirely false impression about how efficient the human brain actually is.


The original experiments, carried out on squid brains by Alan Hodgkin of the University of Cambridge and Andrew Huxley of University College London in 1939, concluded that the energy of electrical signals sent between brain cells required four times the theoretical minimum. But new experiments on rat brains at University College London and the Max-Planck Institute for Brain Research in Germany, headed by Dr. Henrik Alle and Dr. Arnd Roth, suggest that what's true for marine cephalopods isn't true for mammals: Rat brains can transmit signals using only 1.3 times the theoretical minimum, making them much more efficient... and, according to Dr. Alle, making humans more efficient as well:

Electrical signals found in mammalian brain cell types are very similar.

What does this mean outside of our constant struggle to beat squid at anything? Well, it means that doctors may have to reconsider their understanding of how the brain works... as well as exactly how they've been reading brain scans for all of these years.

Image from Redbubble.

Brain cells slicker than we thought [New Scientist]


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