Inverse: Video Shows How a Common Belief About Longevity Has Been Debunked
The number of neurons an animal has in its brain’s cerebral cortex is nature’s best indicator of how long that creature will live, and that also may be a clue as to why humans take longer to mature — and live longer lives — than just about any other being on the planet.
“We do know that the cortex goes well beyond just cognition and mental math, it also takes care of running your physiological functions,” says Professor Suzana Herculano-Houzel of Vanderbilt University.
A new research article into this area — “Longevity and sexual maturity vary across species with number of cortical neurons, and humans are no exception” — was published in October in the Journal of Comparative Neurology, and will be discussed at the Neuroscience 2018 conference, November 3-7 in San Diego.
The number of neurons predicts about 75 percent of the a species’ longevity, says Herculano-Houzel. Meanwhile, body size only predicts between 20 to 30 percent of longevity for a species.
“It’s only natural that our species should take a long time to have that cortex mature,” says Herculano-Houzel.