Evidence for a secular increase in human brain weight during the past century

Ann Hum Biol. 1977 May;4(3):253-7. doi: 10.1080/03014467700007142.


7397 post-mortem records have been studied. These comphrhend all 20- to 50-year old men and women who had been autopsied in The London Hospital since 1907. Fresh brain weight, body weight and height were abstracted and analysed statistically according to sex and to year of birth, any person with a cerebral or skeletal abnormality having been excluded. Fresh brain weight in men increased gradually by an average of 0-66 g per year from a mean of 1372 g for those born in 1860 to 1424 g in 1940-a total of 52 g. The weight of the female brain increased by 0-28 g per year from 1242 g to 1265 g over the same period. No appreciable rise in fresh brain weight occurred in women until 1900, after which date the increase was of the same order in the two sexes. Evidence of secular increases in body height and in body weight is also given.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autopsy
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Body Height
  • Body Weight
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • England
  • Female
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Organ Size
  • Sex Factors