There is a common misconception that a bigger brain size always means a smarter living creature or animal. Recent research done by German avian neuroscientist, Kaya von Eugen, from Ruhr University Bochum in Germany, compared neuron activity in the brain of a pigeon to that of other mammals to see if such thought was true.Ruhr University Bochum (37339321200)

Neurons were a substantial part of our learning curriculum in AP Biology. As such, we know their main function to be transmitting impulses and messages from the environment around us, to signal certain body parts to function. This helps us gain a better understanding of von Eugen’s research as it allows us to comprehend the goal of her experiment and how crucial a knowledge of neurons was to it.

Complete neuron cell diagram tr

To aid in her research, von Eugen turned to an experiment conducted in 2016, where scientists injected molecules resembling glucose into pigeons’ veins, and later tracked radioactivity in these pigeons by tracking the “glucose” molecules. By examining both the radioactivity and the blood of the pigeons, scientists were not only able see how much glucose the brain tissue used, but they were also able to calculate how much glucose was used by each neuron every minute.

Von Eugen’s research continued as she compared neuron energy from the pigeon to that of other mammals, and she came to the conclusion that the neuron of a pigeon used around 3 times less energy that the neuron of an average mammal. So, despite the brain size of a bird, or pigeon in this case, being multiple times smaller than the brain size of other animals, it is clear that intelligence and smarts do not depend on brain size.

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