The amount of information stored by computers is already so large that a person can feel defective in some way. In fact, how many megabytes or gigabytes can be stored in our brain? Is it possible to compete with voluminous electronic storages?
♥ BY TOPIC: How many years do trees live (table).
How much memory can the human brain hold?
In fact, our brain is capable of storing huge amounts of information – scientists talk about a million gigabytes. But not always the ability to remember is useful, for creative people it can even become a problem.
The work of our brain is provided by 100 billion neurons, each of which is in contact with thousands of fellows. As a result, about 100 trillion connections are formed. But only a billion neurons are involved in long-term memory storage. And if we assume that each neuron provides a certain unit of information in the brain, then its volume will seem very limited and clearly finite. But memories are formed by the connections of neurons and their networks, not by the nodes themselves.
Each neuron has a process that provides communication with other cells, increasing in size on contact for better perception. In the course of a study by scientists from the Salk Institute, it was decided to describe these formations in numbers, given the size. When studying the part of the rat brain responsible for memorizing visual images, the “transmitter” (axon) and two “receivers” (spines) were observed. Taking the same information, the spines have similar sizes. But taking into account possible changes in the dispatch, it was possible to count 26 variants of these processes. Based on this, it was possible to calculate the amount of information that can be stored in our memory – about a quadrillion bytes or a million gigabytes.
Obviously, we cannot fully use this resource – it is no coincidence that people constantly forget something, either dates or places. And this behavior of our memory is considered normal, while the outstanding ability to memorize is not perceived otherwise than as a phenomenon. You can at least remember Kim Peak, which became the prototype of the hero of the film “Rain Man”. This American memorized up to 98% of all information received. A scientific article was even published about an unusual person that tried to explain the phenomenon. Scientists have suggested that due to the lack of a corpus callosum between the hemispheres, non-standard connections of neurons formed in a man, which led to extraordinary abilities.
- knew the Bible by heart by the age of seven;
- at the age of 18, read and memorized the complete works of Shakespeare;
- was able to read a standard book page in 8-10 seconds;
- by the end of his life, he kept in his memory the contents of about 12 thousand previously read books.
The Chinese Chao Lu remembers 67,980 digits of pi after the decimal point, naming them for 24 hours. An autistic artist Stephen Wiltshire in the smallest detail from memory depicts pictures of megacities, which he looks at from a height for several minutes.
Stephen Wiltshire draws from memory Singapore seen from above, 2014
True, the champions in memorizing numbers do not consider themselves unique people, attributing success to hard training, and not to the physiological characteristics of their body.
But if our potentialities are so great, why do we constantly forget something, or don’t remember everything at all? Scientists say that it is not necessary to focus on the numerical capacity of memory – it is enough just to understand its huge possibilities. There is more information stored in our memory than we can imagine. And these are not only persons, events, facts, but also the main functions of life: movement, speech, emotions, perception. It is difficult to move from a simple calculation of the strength of connections and the size of spines to a description of all the processes in which neurons participate. Most likely, our brain, when perceiving the world around us, simply does not have time to fix everything. That is why not everything is remembered. Between feelings and memory, the brain left a thin tunnel. We can say that the limitations of our memory are not due to its overflow, but because of the limiting download speed. There is an explanation for why we forget something. The fact is that our memory does not depend on how much we want to store something in it, but on the number of associations associated with it. If an important event or date does not have sufficient links with other important and already stored information, then it will not be easy to restore the data.
And with age, the state of the cardiovascular system begins to affect the functioning of the brain. Brain capillaries are gradually destroyed and supply cells with oxygen worse. The hippocampus, which is responsible for memory, becomes especially vulnerable. That is why people in old age are more difficult to solve cognitive problems and lose as a mechanism for memories. At the same time, our entire storehouse of quadrillion bytes remains unchanged, only access to it is difficult.