of books by Suzana Herculano-Houzel

SUZANA HERCULANO-HOUZEL is a Brazilian neuroscientist. Her main field of work is comparative neuroanatomy. She works at the Departments of Psychology and Biological Sciences at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee.

The Human Advantage: A new understanding of how our brain became remarkable
by Suzana Herculano-Houzel
  MIT Press, 2016

A neurobiologist in search of an answer to how many neurons are in the human brain and how brain size correlates with intelligence. The 'evidence' shows that the best correlation is the relative brain size to body weight. Whales and elephants clearly have larger brains. Birds clearly have smaller brains. Yet either animal shows remarkable cognitive function. Herculano devised a technique to count, not estimate the number of neuron by making brain 'soup'. Her finding? A brain is not homogenous in terms of neurons per volume of brain. Brain regions vary widely. A brain soup however is homogenous. And gives a better count of total neurons. How did she do it? by homogenizing brain tissues on adding fluorescent markers that are specific for nuclei of neurons (thus not counting glia), although glia turn out to be important supporting cells beyond mere structural stabilization, but also sending and responding to local neurohormones.


November 19, 2016 /  © 2016 Lukas K. Buehler / go back to Book Review Home