A new study suggests that the human brain may be capable of storing as much as 1 petabyte of data, and yes that is a lot; it’s even ten times more information that was previously believed. With so much data, it’s no wonder I struggle to find the bit of information in my brain that knows where my car keys are, but that’s a whole different story.
“This is a real bombshell in the field of neuroscience,” Salk Institute for Biological Studies researcher Terry Sejnowski said. “Our new measurements of the brain’s memory capacity increase conservative estimates by a factor of 10 to at least a petabyte, in the same ballpark as the World Wide Web.”
The team reconstructed a rat’s hippocampus in 3D, allowing them to study the memory center of the brain. Through this process, they realised that the brain synapses are capable of changing dimensions, altering their memory capacity. While other synapses were duplicating, allowing the reconstruction of connectivity, shapes and volumes of the brain tissue. This also led to the idea that there may be as many as 26 categories of synapses, far more than previously thought.
“This is roughly an order of magnitude of precision more than anyone has ever imagined,” Sejnowski said. “The implications of what we found are far-reaching. Hidden under the apparent chaos and messiness of the brain is an underlying precision to the size and shapes of synapses that was hidden from us.”
The research can now help advance deep learning and neural networking computer techniques, as we discover how the brain can process with unmatched abilities while consuming just 20 watts of power. With a petabyte, and maybe even more at its disposal, the human brain is an amazing thing. If you can’t grasp just how much data that is, just imagine downloading the entire internet, literally all of it, and storing it in your head with room left over! Although I can’t imagine how big the piracy fine would be for doing so.