FEB 13, 2016 12:12 PM PST

Brains Can Store 10x More Memories Than Previously Thought

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

On appearance alone, the human brain not a uniquely impressive organ. It's about a 3-pound mass of squishy matter decorated with lots of folds and grooves. This appearance underlies possibly the most advanced and intricate biological computers in evolution. And it may actually even more powerful than we imagined, as scientists recently estimated that the brain can store 10 times more memories than previously thought possible.

Based on a rat hippocampus brain model, researchers calculated synaptic length and various synaptic sizes. From this, they calculated, in computer terms, that each synapse can store an average of 4.7 bits. Applied to the entire brain, the team estimated that the storage capacity is equivalent to 1 petabyte, which is the same as 1,000 terabytes or 1 million gigabytes. Imagine if your laptop had that storage capacity, let alone your brain!

Impressive as it is, some researchers think 1 petabyte is an underestimate while some remain skeptical. After all, this was based on a rat brain, which while similar, is not the same as a human brain. Watch the video to learn more about the brain's amazing storage powers.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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