‘Bombshell’ Study Shows Our Brains Are Even More Awesome Than We Knew

In a finding they’re calling a “real bombshell in the field of neuroscience,” researchers have uncovered evidence that the human brain’s memory capacity is an order of magnitude greater than previously thought.

“Our new measurements of the brain’s memory capacity increase conservative estimates by a factor of 10 to at least a petabyte,” Dr. Terry Sejnowski, a professor at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, and co-senior author of a paper describing the research, said in a written statement.

In other words, the human brain may be able to store one petabyte of data, which is 1 quadrillion bytes or 1 million megabytes. That’s enough memory to store 13.3 years of high-definition video.

The finding, published recently in the journal eLife, is considered preliminary and must be confirmed by future research. But it constitutes a significant advance in our understanding of neuroanatomy and could prove to be a step toward the creation of a complete “wiring diagram” of the human brain, Sejnowsky told The Huffington Post.

In addition, the finding could point the way to a new generation of computers that combine enormous processing power with low energy consumption. Such “probabilistic” computing devices — so called because they process data in a way that is more intuitive than conventional computers — are considered a game-changer for applications ranging from translation to machine vision.

We have to think of the brain not as an old grandfather clock but as a high-precision watch.”

Sejnowski and his collaborators at Salk and the University of Texas at Austin made the discovery as part of a detailed anatomical examination and subsequent 3D computer reconstruction of the cells within a tiny portion of tissue from the brain of a rat.

The reconstruction showed —> Read More