Ok, I’ve suspected for years now that I am a better writer than your average chimpanzee, but I’ve never really had any proof. Well, I was reading one of my brain books – I am fascinated by the brain, in particular, the fiction writer’s brain. I’ve always wanted to know where those visual images are developed in the brain, but I digress – and it touched on the subject of the biological differences between man and chimp. I knew we shared 98% of the same DNA with chimps, but what I didn’t know was that one of the genes that differs between man and chimp is the gene that determines how many neurons we will make. The simple definition for neuron is that they are the cells that make up the nervous system (including the brain), and they transfer information via electrical impulses. Neurons in most animals (including humans) are basically the same in structure. They are developed when we are embryos and they divide and divide and divide and divide… until the regulatory gene tells them to stop. Our regulatory gene lets the neurons divide until there about 100 billion of those suckers. The chimp’s stop a few rounds earlier and the result is a brain that is 1/3 the size of a human brain. Bam! Proof positive that I could write any chimp under the table.
The really awesome part is that our neurons connect with all the cells in our body to make a virtually infinite number of synaptic connections – 10 followed by a million zeros, to be exact. How big is that? There are 10 followed by 79 zeros particles in the entire universe. In short, our brains are cool. Suck on that, chimps!
BTW – the book I got this information from is The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science (James H. Silberman Books) by Norman Doidge, M.D.