Elephants & Brains

How large is the elephant brain compared to other animal brains, esp. the human brain?

How intelligent is the elephant considered to be relative to other animals?

Has there ever been any kind of correlation between brain size and any kind of intelligence? I heard that Einstein’s brain was very typical except for 1 section which was larger, does anybody know what part of the brain that was?

IIRC The ratio of brain mass to body mass is a common gauge for intelligence.
I’m not sure where elephant fall, but dolphins are heavy favorites after primates.
For notes on elephant memory, check http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a2_005.html
One thing the big CA doesn’t mention, and that I saw on some ecotainment show, is that allegedly, elephants can remeber there way back to wartering holes dozens of years later after only visiting once. Other theads have railed against the accuracy of such discovery channel crap, so take it with a grain of salt.

Re: Einstein
There was a UL that Einstein’s was smaller than average, that is false. Einstein had more connections between the left and right side of his brain.
This info I read in the Chicago Trib a few months ago.

They chopped up Einstein’s brain?

They chopped up Einstein’s brain.

Carl Sagan wrote extensively on the brain in The Dragons of Eden. There is included a chart showing comparison of brain mass/body mass ratios. The elephant isn’t as intelligent as one might think. Their brain mass appears to be about 5x’s a human’s in a body that may way something like 100x’s as much. (I’m kind of guessing at these figures. The graph isn’t real clear.) They also finish below dolophins. However, if I’m reading this correctly, an elephant might give a chimpanzee a run for its money on Jeopardy.

Carpe hoc!

And, of course, by “dolophin” I mean “dolphin”.

And by “way” I mean “weigh”. I think I need some sleep.

In re Einstein’s brain, this is the New York Times’ version (via the S. F. Chronicle, 6-18-99) of the Canadian study of his brain, published in the 6-19-99 issue of The Lancet, as “The exceptional brain of Albert Einstein”, by Sandra F Witelson, Debra L Kigar, Thomas Harvey:


Basically, they found that the inferior parietal lobe on one side, which processes mathematical thought, three-dimensional visualization, spatial relationships and other mental processes was significantly
larger than the same area in people with normal intelligence, and that there was no Sylvian fissure on that side, which might have allowed more interconnectivity of neurons in that area.


Yeah, what he said.
Course, they found in rats that stimulus and training can change brain structure and increase neural connectivity. So, its not real clear if you can say Eistein was a genius because he had a large parietal thingy. He may have had a large parietal thingy because he was a genius.

Regarding elephant intelligence, these facts are from a bestiary guide to the game Evolution by Discovery Channel Multimedia, for whatever it’s worth:

  • Elephant brains are far larger than human brains.

  • Elephants have a brain-to-body weight ratio close to that of humans and larger that that of apes.

  • Zoo elephants have been trained to paint. Their color choices are apparently based on the color of the “subject” that they are painting.