How many neurons make a human brain? Billions fewer than we thought

Tuesday, February 28, 2012 - 06:30 in Biology & Nature

A technique that involves turning the brain into 'soup' and counting the nuclei of nerve cells reveals that we're 14bn shortHow many neurons are there in the human brain? It was a question that scientists thought they had nailed – and the answer was 100bn (give or take). If you went looking you would find that figure repeated widely in the neuroscience literature and beyond.But when a researcher in Brazil called Dr Suzana Herculan-Houzel started digging, she discovered that no one in the field could actually remember where the 100bn figure had come from – let alone how it had been arrived at. So she set about discovering the true figure (HT to the excellent Nature neuroscience podcast NeuroPod).This involved a remarkable – and to some I suspect unsettling – piece of research. Her team took the brains of four adult men, aged 50, 51, 54 and 71, and turned...

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