Our Cities Are Like Our Brains

Next time you get mad about the growth of cities, take some comfort in the newly-discovered fact that there's more at work than just inept town planning. Apparently, city bosses are just subconsciously mirroring what's happening inside their own brains.

Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have just studied the results of a study that demonstrated the unusual and unexpected parallels between the development of a city and the development of the brain. As neurobiology expert Mark Changizi explains,

When scaling up in size and function, both cities and brains seem to follow similar empirical laws... They have to efficiently maintain a fixed level of connectedness, independent of the physical size of the brain or city, in order to work properly. Natural selection has passively guided the evolution of mammalian brains throughout time, just as politicians and entrepreneurs have indirectly shaped the organisation of cities large and small. It seems both of these invisible hands have arrived at a similar conclusion.

That conclusion is growth proportional to the surface area raised to the power of 3/4. The study, published in the journal Complexity, doesn't offer up reasoning behind the connection, but we consider it near-unbeatable proof that our entire world is just one giant living brain, and we are but living Numskulls.

The Mind of A City [Open The Magazine]