Brain ‘Wrinkles’ – Are They The Mark Of Intelligence?

This is Ron White, two-time USA Memory Champion, memory training expert and memory keynote. The brain is an amazing thing, and I find the study of the brain fascinating. I would like to share this bit of information with you.

I actually never thought about brain “wrinkles” before. It wasn’t until I read somewhere that you get more wrinkles in your brain when you learn something. I thought about it, laughed it off at the time, but then thought maybe I would check it out.

When you look at graphic designs of the brain you see a number of wrinkles covering a rounded, two-lobed mass of pink and gray matter. This all fits inside your skull. If we were to get a new wrinkle each time we learn something our skull would be full of millions of wrinkles, and since we learn from birth the older we get the more space would be taken up. Logically it would stand to reason the older a person gets the bigger their head would have to be in order to accommodate all those wrinkles. Imagine the size of Albert Einstein’s head if this were true, yet after he died his brain showed no more weight than a regular-sized brain, and there was no mention of excessive wrinkles.

As the humanoid species evolved our brains did grow larger to accommodate the higher functions that would set us apart from other animals. In order for our brain to fit into our skull, and be in proportion to the rest of our body, the brain folded itself as it grew. Our brain is actually quite soft, so it can compact itself quite easily by folding. The ridges are called ‘gyri’, and the crevices are called ‘sulci’. When unfolded it could become the size of a pillowcase.

We actually don’t start out life with wrinkled brains. As a fetus develops the brain is totally smooth. As it develops neurons begin to grow connecting one part of the brain to other parts. As the brain and all its parts grow the gyri and sulci are created and the folding begins. By the time the fetus is fully developed (at 40 weeks) the brain is wrinkled, and the number of wrinkles we have at birth will remain the same throughout life (unless damaged).  Each person’s brain wrinkles differently, the amount of wrinkles does not have any bearing on IQ.

Our brains will continue to change as we learn and grow, but will not add new sulci or gyri. Brain plasticity will take place, where the neuro-connectors will grow, add or die out, or make new connections. Our brain blood cells that support the neurons will also grow and increase in number, as well as die out. The number of wrinkles will stay the same.

No, more wrinkles in your brain does not mean you are smarter than anyone else. That’s just an urban myth.

 

 

Sources:

Discovery Fit & Health – You Get New Brain Wrinkles When You Learn Something: http://health.howstuffworks.com/human-body/systems/nervous-system/10-brain-myths3.htm

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