Are People With Big Heads Smarter?

Do you have a big head… or a big forehead? I do on both accounts, and until now it’s been a point of embarrassment for me – especially as my hairline recedes. My wife jokes about my head being my most dangerous weapon if I have to defend our family. I usually say it’s because I have a big brain and a normal one can’t contain all my thoughts and ideas. Although I do occasionally think about knocking out an intruder with my noggin (it’s the father in me). So does the size of your head play a part in your overall intelligence? Well, I found this answer from a reputable outfit called Science Netlinks: “The most we can say about brain size and intelligence is that by and large, all other things being equal, people who have larger brains tend to have slightly higher I.Q.’s than people with smaller brains.” Science Netlinks goes onto say that “Jonathan Swift (the author of Gulliver’s Travels) had a big honkin’ brain, at the top end of all the brains ever measured. Does that mean Swift was the smartest man who ever lived? He was certainly a bright guy, but it’s hard to get behind any statement so extreme.”

I rather like that explanation, as I’ve got the head of an NFL nose tackle on the body of a receiver (and I’m assuming big head = big brain). But as with many things it’s helpful to look for an opposing viewpoint and then compare the strength of each side’s data. I found that researchers from The Queensland Institute for Medical Research tested 4395 teenagers for a link between head size and intelligence and they found no relation. (Shucks!) Read what they found.

So it seems those with big heads can side with the Swift story, and those with small heads can point to the research out of Australia. I say start noticing the head sizes of the smartest people you know and see if you find any correlation for yourself! Let me know what you find out… the first few people that come to my mind all have large heads – although maybe that’s just my perspective!

To see a brain’s various functional areas, check out this diagram: www.umich.edu/~cogneuro/jpg/Brodmann.html

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