Swarming behaviour enlarges brains

Paul Raven @ 26-05-2010

… if you’re a locust, that is. When the droughts make times tough for the normally solitary little critters, they get packed close together, and a sort of insect mob law takes over in response to a flood of serotonin – swarm time! This change to a more risky social lifestyle demands more brain power from the individual locusts, and their brains expand to cope.

Immediate parallels thrown up by my own brain: Teilhard de Chardin’s noosphere; Clarke’s Childhood’s End. Putting on an uncritically optimistic technophiliac hat for a moment, might we imagine the increased global socialisation enabled by modern communications networks to provoke some similar expansion of human brain capacity?

We might… but bear in mind the locust’s brain-boost is necessary to cope with a life where fierce resource competition and cannibalism is the norm. Hey presto: a grimly allegorical sf dystopia that writes itself!

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2 Responses to “Swarming behaviour enlarges brains”

  1. Laurel says:

    …and then eats itself.

  2. TheShiffy says:

    “might we imagine the increased global socialisation enabled by modern communications networks to provoke some similar expansion of human brain capacity”

    THAT, Peak Oil, Water Crisis, and Global Warming. So yes, quite analogous.