Heller Lecture Series - May 16th 2019

Heller Lecture Series in Computational Neuroscience


Prof. Suzana Herculano-Houzel

Vanderbilt University

Suzana Herculano-Houzel



 On the topic of

The costs and advantages of having a human brain


 Why you really have to go to school


Having more neurons in the cerebral cortex must make it capable of more complex and flexible cognition, so our sixteen billion cortical neurons, the most in any brain, place humans at a clear cognitive advantage over all other animals. What are the benefits of being human, and what is the price to pay? This talk will argue that while having tons of cortical neurons is prohibitively expensive for most species, the more cortical neurons a warm-blooded animal - like humans - has in its brain, the more time it takes the species to mature, and the longer it gets to live once independence is reached. The story of how we got here has to do with being a primate, cooking, and going to school.