Do all humans have the same number of neurons?

In this brief guide, we’re going to answer the question “Do all humans have the same number of neurons?” and how many neurons can we lose per day and why are they important.

Do all humans have the same number of neurons?

Yes, all humans have roughly the same number of neurons. In fact, in the human brain, there are over 86 billion neurons, according to new data from Brazilian neuroscientist Dr. Suzana Herculano-Houzel.

It was previously thought that humans had 100 billion neurons in the brain, however new research suggests that the brain actually contains fewer neurons than previously believed.

The Brazilian researcher Dra. Suzana Herculano-Houzel decided to investigate to determine if the number of neurons accepted by the scientific community was true, however, this brought its challenges.

All humans have the same brain size, but the density of neurons differs in different regions of the brain. The count of neurons in a high-density part of the brain can lead to a high estimate, while the count of those in a lower-density region can lead to an excessively low estimate.

To solve this problem, Suzana used a method that consisted of dissolving cell membranes in order to create a kind of “brain soup” to be able to count the number of cell nuclei in a sample. And she found that, on average, the human brain had 86 billion neurons because she didn’t find any brain with 100 billion.

What is a neuron?

A neuron is a highly specialized type of cell, which composes the nervous system, responsible for controlling the voluntary and involuntary functions of the body.

Neurons are characterized by their electrical excitability, which translates into the ability to conduct nerve impulses along the immense network of the nervous system, transmitting them also to other cells, such as muscle cells.

Structure of the neurons

Neurons have a defined morphology and are composed of four parts:

  • Nucleus: Where the genetic information of the neuron is found, it usually occupies a central and very visible position in the same, especially in the youngest specimens.
  • Pericarion: The space that surrounds the nucleus and composes the cell body, in which the various organelles of the neuron are found, such as free ribosomes, the rugged reticulum, the Golgi apparatus, etc.
  • Dendrites: These are extensions of the cytoplasm of the cell, wrapped in a plasma membrane devoid of myelin, abundant in organelles and vesicles that allow interconnection and synapse.
  • Axon: It’s a tubular extension of the body of the neuron, covered with myelin and abundant in microtubules, which allows the passage of the electrical stimulus from one end of the cell to the other. At the end of the axon there is a series of terminals that allow it to connect physically with other neurons and cells of another type.
What Is a Neuron? - Definition, Structure, Parts and Function

What is neurogenesis? 

Neurogenesis (birth of new neurons) is the process by which new neurons are generated from stem cells and progenitor cells. Through precise genetic mechanisms by which the cell lineage is determined, different varieties of excitatory and inhibitory neurons are generated from different types of neural stem cells. Neurogenesis is most active during prenatal development and is responsible for populating the growing brain with neurons.

How can I increase my neurons?

The number of neurons can be increased in the following way:

  • Running: Aerobic exercise, like running, has positive effects on the function and structure of the brain. In particular, it increases neurogenesis of the hippocampus.
  • Swimming: One study found that regular swimming increases and stimulates neurogenesis. In addition to stimulating neurogenesis, prolonged aerobic swimming training releases endorphins, which may work to reduce stress and decrease pain.
  • Meditation and yoga: One of the exercises that increase neurogenesis is a combination of yoga and meditation. If you follow a regular yoga practice or take 10 minutes out of your day to meditate in silence, you know the benefits and sense of clarity that can come from it.
  • Bicycle: You can also learn to increase neurogenesis with outdoor training, such as cycling. Cycling is an excellent form of aerobic exercise and ideal for supporting brain health.
  • Dance: As a neurogenesis exercise, dancing also requires a lot of coordination. You must actively involve your brain to memorize the steps, which is excellent for neurogenesis.
  • Mental exercise: Don’t forget to exercise your brain too. Even if you don’t move physically, it is equally important to keep your brain active and busy through regular mental exercise.

How many neurons do we lose per day?

People can lose up to 10,000 neurons every day. A figure that if we add it up, per year represents the loss of more than three and a half million. That’s considering only those people between the ages of 20 and 30.

In spite of this, don’t alarm. Cell death is a natural process that is controlled by our body and is part of aging.

In fact, if we consider that people have 86 billion neurons, it seems logical to think that they are sufficient to have a functional brain.

What habits can kill neurons?

Certain habits can cause damage because they kill your neurons and alter your brain activity, below we tell you what they are:

  • Don’t have breakfast: The lack of proteins, vitamins and nutrients at breakfast causes brain degeneration, which later causes neuron death due to the overload produced during the day’s activities.
  • Eating too much: Eating meals in exaggerated quantities causes a slowing down of the circulation and limits the transport of oxygen to the brain. If we add to this the consumption of foods rich in saturated fat, we must know that these increase cholesterol levels and cause inflammation in the main tissues of the body.
  • Smoking: Some of the most common and dangerous drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, LSD, better known as acid, marijuana and even alcohol, affect the neuron, cheat it, obstruct it, violate it or atrophy it, and can hurt it forever or kill it.
  • High intake of sugars: Delays absorption of other nutrients, disrupts brain activities.
  • Air pollution: Environments with high rates of pollution affect those who are directly exposed. The brain is the organ that consumes the most oxygen and in this type of environment the supply it requires is limited.
  • Sleep deprivation: Lack of sleep causes loss of brain cells and produces harmful effects in the short, medium and long term, as well as sleeping with the head covered.
  • Forcing brain activity when you are sick: Most conditions cause some kind of weakening at the body level, including the ability to perform brain functions. Working, studying, or doing any cognitive activity when you are sick is very harmful to humans.

Las neuronas de un adulto se regeneran? - National Geographic en Español

  • Stress: Stress kills neurons and even prevents new ones from forming in the hippocampus. According to research published in the Journal of Neuroscience, acute stress only allows new neurons to survive for a few days.
  • Lack of stimulation: Thinking is the best way to stimulate your brain.   Reading a book, playing mind games or anything else that involves thinking is a way of exercising this organ so that it doesn’t develop serious pathologies.
  • Lack of exercise: Physical activity stimulates the precursor cells from which the neurogenesis originates, increasing their proliferation and maintenance, while enriching and promoting the survival of immature neurons.    

Neurons regenerate?

Until a few years ago, it was believed that human brain cells were irreversibly and progressively disappearing as part of the natural aging process. 

This totally wrong idea supposed that each human being was born with a limited amount of neurons that were lost with age or by the harmful influence of such implausible external factors as showers with too hot water or prolonged periods of insomnia.

Today it has been scientifically demonstrated the capacity of neuroregeneration in specific areas of the brain, in areas directly linked to memory and learning, thanks to a study recently carried out in Europe and published by the prestigious journal Science, where it was shown that the brain of an adult has the capacity to generate new brain cells.

This capacity of the human brain is related to the phenomenon called “cerebral synaptic plasticity”, which consists of the generation of an electrical stimulus in the neurons so that these activate the mechanism of neuroregeneration.

Why are neurons important?

The reason why neurons are important is because neurons correspond to the main cells that make up nerve tissues, thus transmitting information from the nervous system to all parts of our body.

The cells that are used to remember and reflect on something are known as neurons; neurons are the fundamental cells that form the central and peripheral nervous system.

Can you believe it? 86 billion neurons responsible for all brain function.

FAQS: Do all humans have the same number of neurons?

How many neurons does the average person have?

We found that on average the human brain has 86 billion neurons. 

Do humans have the most neurons?

The human brain has often been considered outstanding among mammalian brains: the most cognitively capable, the largest than expected because of the size of the body, endowed with an overdeveloped cerebral cortex that represents more than 80% of the brain mass and that supposedly contains 86 billion neurons and 10 times more glial cells.

Are all neurons in the brain?

The first is the brain, with up to 86 billion neurons and the spinal cord, which connects our brain to the rest of the body. But there is another large cluster of neurons in the peripheral nervous system, whose central nucleus is the ganglion within the digestive system.

Does more neurons mean more intelligence

No, today we know that intelligence is not measured by the number of neurons, but by the number of neural connections.

What kind of neurons are in the brain?

There are three major types of neurons: sensory neurons, motor neurons, and interneurons. All three have different functions, but the brain needs all of them to communicate effectively with the rest of the body (and vice versa).

 

In this guide, we answered the question “Do all humans have the same number of neurons” and how many neurons can we lose per day and why are they important.

So, do all humans have the same number of neurons?

If you have any questions or comments, please let us know.

References

Are There Really as Many Neurons in the Human Brain as Stars in the Milky Way? | Brain Metrics | Learn Science at Scitable. (2013). Retrieved September 27, 2020, from Nature.com website: ttps://www.nature.com/scitable/blog/brain-metrics/are_there_really_as_many/

Brains of smarter people have bigger and faster neurons – News. (2018). Retrieved September 26, 2020, from Humanbrainproject.eu website: https://www.humanbrainproject.eu/en/follow-hbp/news/brains-of-smarter-people-have-bigger-and-faster-neurons/

Comparing the Amount of Neurons in Human and Different Animal Brains. Retrieved September 26, 2020, from Verywell Mind website: https://www.verywellmind.com/how-many-neurons-are-in-the-brain-2794889

‌Herculano-Houzel, S. (2009). The human brain in numbers: a linearly scaled-up primate brain. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience3. https://doi.org/10.3389/neuro.09.031.2009

Leave a Comment