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Number of neurons provides a Quick and Dirty estimate but it is the number of actual and potential connections that are more germane.  Purkinje cells in the cerebellum have ~200,000 dendrites and several hundred axon boutons.  Pyramid cells have ~10,000 dendrites and several thousand axon boutons.  Even that isn't necessarily indicative as the von Economo neurons in the Insula cortex have sparse dendritic trees and axon boutons yet seem to be associated with the higher intelligence* of apes, whales, etc.

And the organism's umwelt must be considered.  Generally speaking a social animal, like a dog, requires more processing power than a solitary animal, like a cat.  Brains are biologically expensive along any axis one cares to consider.  If the organism is successful with what its got there's no evolutionary pressure for more.

** whatever that means

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Thu Dec 7th, 2017 at 05:30:17 PM EST
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