All human brains same

Our brains are all made of the

Many people assume human brains vary genetically and genetic variation maps to races. But the races are not real and genetic variation can’t explain brain differences. Because, dear reader, brains don’t work that way.

Let’s look just at the brain part of this problem.

A Repost

There are between 50 and 100 billion neurons in the human brain, and every one is connected to a minimum of one other neuron to produce about 100 trillion connections. So when we are thinking about how the brain is wired up, we have to explain how so many connections can be specified to make the brain work.

There are thousands of genes that seem to be expressed mainly or exclusively in the brain … perhaps as many as 10, 000 (or about half the genes that are active in the human genome) … but this vast difference between number of connection and number of genes is true to nearly the same extent for all mammal brains. A human brain has way more connections (and much more “higher cognitive function”) than a mouse brain, but with about the same number of genes, There may be some unique added genes in the human, but the number of additional brain circuits required to add human language and cognitive function to a mouse can not be explained by more genes unless individual genes do not do much in the way of detail.

All human populations over long(ish) evolutionary time are subjected to similar selective pressures to have a smaller brain. Large brains in humans kill mothers and children in birth. Death in childbirth is, in fact, higher for humans in a “natural state” than other mammals. The large brain is being selected against to a significant degree, or at least, it is safe to assume this.

However, large brains persist. There is some literature suggesting that some “races” have smaller brains than others. As far as I know these assertions are very suspicious, and while brain size varies across different samples, there is no reliable data suggesting that there are major population level differences in human brain size. Some of the differences that have been asserted in the literature have involve very poor data and very inappropriate manipulation of the data to make it look like there are significant population differences in brain size.

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