Published On: Fri, Jan 22nd, 2016

Your brain can store information as much as the entire Internet!

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Our brain may have a memory capacity 10 times larger than previously thought and can store a petabyte of information – as much as the entire Web, a new study has found.

The finding answers a longstanding question as to how the brain is so energy efficient and could help engineers build computers that are incredibly powerful but also conserve energy.

“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,” said Terry Sejnowski from Salk Institute for Biological Studies in US.

The new research published in the journal eLife also answers a long standing question as to how the brain is so energy efficient and could help engineers build computers that are incredibly powerful but also conserve energy.

“We discovered the key to unlocking the design principle for how hippocampal neurons function with low energy but high computation power,” Sejnowski said.

Our memories and thoughts are the result of patterns of electrical and chemical activity in the brain.

A key part of the activity happens when branches of neurons, much like electrical wire, interact at certain junctions, known as synapses.

“When we first reconstructed every dendrite, axon, glial process, and synapse from a volume of hippocampus the size of a single red blood cell, we were somewhat bewildered by the complexity and diversity amongst the synapses,” said Kristen Harris from the University of Texas.

Synapses are still a mystery, though their dysfunction can cause a range of neurological diseases.

Larger synapses – with more surface area and vesicles of neurotransmitters – are stronger, making them more likely to activate their surrounding neurons than medium or small synapses.

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