A number of scientists have posited than human intelligence can not evolve beyond its current level. They base this on that the amount of additional energy that would be required to service a higher intelligence could not be supplied.

High integration of brain networks seems to be associated with high IQ. ‘You pay a price for intelligence. Becoming smarter means improving connections between different brain areas but this runs into tight limits on energy, along with space for the wiring.’



                   I gots lotsa room fer brain growin



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Whoah.  I don't suppose those are fake teeth, huh?  Meth abuse at its finest?
It was my understanding that the evolution of human intelligence peaked about a million years ago. As a species we have gotten smarter because we learn new things. But does that make us more intelligent? I know more things than Thomas Jefferson, John Locke, and Isaac Newton combined. But does that make me more intelligent? Our brains and our bodies apparently reached their current level long before the Neolithic Age. It is only our technology that continues to evolve.
Your comment reminded me of an article I saw in Scientific American, called the Limits of Intelligence. I thought you mind find it interesting. it's about the physics of the brain and how how distances in neural firings (and more complicated ideas) might limit our intelligence. The link doesn't go very far but I am sure you could find a copy at the library or something it is a good read and a much longer article.


I agree , Suzan's Blackmore point of view on memetic is very interesting at that level. See on TED talk.

if it were really just a matter of available energy, then i'd have to think, that, considering the obesity epidemic we're going through, energy isn't exactly something in short supply and a limiting factor.
Given that logic the top finishers in the Boston Marathon should all be obese.
no, not really.
I don't see why we couldn't. Evolution doesn't "peak." If technology has any effect on our evolution, as undoubtedly it will, we could certainly increase our caloric intake to accommodate a more robust cerebral cortex. Not that we are using all the brain we have now, I'm just saying there is no REAL limiting factor to increased cranial capacity other than sexual selection. Giant heads and high IQ's are SO sexy!

No doubt a human/computer interface that will expand our intellectual prowess is almost inevitable in the near future.  However, from a strickly biological and evolutionary position expanded intellectual progress has for the most part peaked.

For larger cranial capacity female anatomy would also have to change, as the current cranial size is at the upper extreme for passage through the birth canal (a reality I'm confident any mother can attest to).  Larger headed babies will result in some really pissed off mommies - at the very least.

Interesting enough there is a philosopher that talks about human/technology interface as a part of our cognition. His book Supersizing the Mind was a difficult read and I won't pretend to understand all of it, but taken this way technology has been a part of our evolution just as much as anything else.

"Clark is perhaps most famous for his defence of the hypothesis of the Extended mind. According to Clark, the dynamic loops through which mind and world interact are not merely instrumental. The cycle of activity that runs from brain through body and world and back again actually constitutes cognition. The mind, on this account, is not bounded by the biological organism but extends into the environment of that organism." (wikipedia on Andy Clark.)

I'm sure the "first" hominid birth was no picnic either, but that didn't stop us. :)

Besides, evolution is extremely gradual. Increasing cranial capacity by a few cubic centimeters every 1000 years or so would probably go unnoticed as, for each generation, the birth canal would only have to expand a negligible amount to accommodate. Of course, I'm not sure that either the environment or sexual selection would favor this development, but it's a fun hypothetical.

I do agree that we will probably kill ourselves off long before any significant evolution in brain size could occur.

Available energy is only half the problem, the other half is in the way the brain is connected.  It is true that we don't use the whole of our brains now, however, the brain isn't just used for thought, it also controls bodily functions such as heartbeat.  If we were to somehow develop a way to use the entire human brain for thinking, that means that we would also have to find a way to consciously regulate our heart rate.


A common belief is that the more we learn, the more we forget.  In a way that  does make logical sense.  The human brain is like a computer, it only has so much storage space for data.  Perhaps our brains are constantly replacing old information with new information.  If that's the case, then modern technology may also prove an answer for that too, by giving us the ability to store at least a portion of our intellect outside the brain and even outside the body.




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