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  • Shh I'm accessing my mind palace like Sherlock Holmeshuhliving room is a bit smaller

  • than I expectedbedroom's kinda cramped

  • But LOTS of storage!

  • I actually STORE in there?

  • Hey there my neuro-nerds, Trace here for DNews.

  • Now we all know that our brains can store an incredible amount of information -- a lifetime

  • of memories, everything from the good, the bad and the downright embarrassing.

  • Up until recently, it was thought that the brain could only hold the equivalent of 100

  • terabytes of information, max -- which, let's face it, is a lot.

  • But it turns out our brains may actually have ten times that capacity.

  • In a 2016 study conducted by The Salk Institute, researchers discovered our brains could store

  • at least a petabyte of information!

  • A petabyte is the equivalent of approximately one thousand terabytes or one million gigabytes!

  • To put it another way, if you were to continuously play a petabyte of 4-minute songs, it would

  • take 2,000 years to listen to all of them.

  • To-do list, check.

  • Obviously, this unit of measurement is generally used for computer memory not brain capacity,

  • but neuroscientists can also use bytes as a useful comparison for our brain's own storage

  • capacity.

  • So, both elephants and whales have physically larger brains, but relatively speaking, our

  • body-to-brain ratio is about the same as a mouse!

  • Learning about how our brains store and process information can give us insight into why we

  • seem to be more intelligent than other animals.

  • When you experience something, let's say, your first kiss, that experience is converted

  • into pulses of electrical energy coming from your external senses (lips, nose, hands, for

  • example) and your internal senses (emotional responses and heart rate).

  • That electrical energy is fired across the brain through a network of neurons until it

  • reaches the hippocampus -- a sort of memory data bank, though some recent studies suggest

  • that certain long-term memories might also be stored in the Cerebral cortex.

  • Everything we do produces pulses, thousands of them every day, and each one travels across

  • neurons via specific gap called a synapse.

  • In that synaptic junction, neurotransmitter chemicals ferry the pulses from one neuron

  • to the next as fast as possible.

  • The brain has roughly 86 billion neurons, not 100 billion, only 86.

  • Specifically.

  • Myth busteeedddd!!

  • And each brain cell connects to at least one other, but likely more!

  • Meaning there are TRILLIONS of synapses.

  • The gap between the neurons is small, only 20 to 40 nanometers, but studies seem to indicate

  • these synapses are crucial in the process of making and storing memories.

  • To find out how, the Salk Institute used a 3D digital model of a rat's hippocampus,

  • and examined how synapse size effects brain capacity and efficiency, and in doing so,

  • noticed something unusualin 10 percent of cases a single neuron had two synapses

  • connected to the same neighboring neuron

  • They were sending two copies of the exact same message!

  • Curiously, those two synapses varied in size by 8 percent, and when it comes to synapses,

  • size really DOES matter.

  • Larger synaptic gaps require more neurotransmitter chemicals so they're more likely to succeed

  • in communicating their electrical data to the neighbouring neuron.

  • That simple eight percent variation enabled researchers to create mathematical models,

  • concluding that synapses come in 26 different discrete sizes!

  • Exiting RIGHT?!

  • Trust me, it is.

  • This size variation is almost ten times what was previously thought.

  • Suggesting that more size variability means, in digital terms, synapses are able to process

  • 4.7 bits of memory.

  • Previously scientists thought synapses could only process one or two bits

  • A small change, but, again, given there are trillions of synapses spread throughout the

  • brain, the researchers calculated one petabyte capacity.

  • Now, before we get too excited, remember, this study wasn't modeled on a human brain

  • but a rat brain, although scientists think it could translate to humans.

  • And some neuroscientists believe the estimation is low!

  • Maybe we could store 2-3 petabytes of memory!

  • It's a lot to think about…!

  • Pun intended.

  • We know you love watching online, but DNews is also on Science channel!

  • Amy and I share a minute of the best in science in between awesome programming.

  • So check out as Science Presents DNews at 9!

  • Every weeknight, Monday through Friday, and use your twitter to let them know if you want

  • more!

Shh I'm accessing my mind palace like Sherlock Holmeshuhliving room is a bit smaller

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Our Brains Can Store 10x More Than We Thought!

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    joey joey posted on 2021/04/14
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