How Many GB is the Human Brain?

This article will answer the question of how many GB is the human brain. It will also discuss the comparison of the brain with a computer. The article further highlights interesting facts about the brain, and some frequently asked questions about the same.

How Many GB is the Human Brain?

The human brain is 2.5 million gigabytes. The storage capacity of the human brain is about over 74 Terabytes, just in the cerebral cortex alone.

The memory capacity of an adult human brain on average is trillions of bytes of information. It has been reported that the cerebral cortex in the brain alone has 125 trillion synapses. Studies have found that one synapse can store around 4.7 bits of information.

The human brain has about one billion neurons. Each of these neurons forms around 1,000 connections with other neurons, and thus has about more than a trillion connections. Neurons are the brain cells that process and transmit messages in the brain, while synapses are the bridges between neurons that connect neuronal pathways and help in the transmission of messages across the brain (Lüders et al., 2002). 

Thus, if we calculate the numbers of 125 trillion synapses and 4.7 bits of information per synapse, it rounds up to about 1 trillion bytes of information in the brain, i.e. 1 TB (Terabyte) (Bartol et al., 2015).

The human brain can process up to 11 million bits of information per second. This is the natural processing capacity of the brain, including the conscious, subconscious, and unconscious mind. However, the conscious mind has a very limited capacity and it can handle anything from 40 to 120 bits of information in a second.

Since the information that is incoming to us is usually so large, our brains can sometimes make use of cognitive shortcuts that can cause unconscious or implicit bias. This may have serious consequences on how we perceive others and act towards them. 

If we process all the information, it will be too much for us to handle at once. Moreover, it would be nearly impossible to process all the information incoming at us in a logical, rational manner. Or we’d be questioning every decision we make. Thus, the human brain takes cognitive shortcuts and sometimes makes decisions on the basis of heuristics, aka “rules of thumb”.

Neuroscientists have found emerging evidence that the human brain can have around 10 times more memory capacity than was previously thought. This would bring the total amount, in computer terms, to about 1 petabyte (1 million GB) of the bain storage capacity! This means the human brain’s memory capacity is equal to around 31,250 iPhone 7s of 32 GB kind. We hold all of that information in the human brain.

Weight of the human brain

The weight of the human brain is about 3 lbs or 1.4 kilograms. It makes up around 2% of the human body weight. The male brains are found to be roughly 10% larger than female brains according to a study done by Northwestern Medicine in Illinois. 

The male brain has a brain volume of 78 cubic inches or 1,274 cubic centimetres on average as compared to the female brain which has a volume of 69 cubic inches or 1,131 cubic centimetres. The cerebrum is considered to be the main part of the brain and it is located in the front area of the skull. The cerebrum makes up around 85% of the brain’s weight (Im et al., 2008).

Interesting Facts about the Human Brain

Below are some interesting facts about the human brain:

  • 60% of the brain is actually made of fat. This makes the brain the fattiest organ in the human body. These fatty acids are important for the efficient performance of the brain. Hence, it is necessary to fuel the brain with healthy nutrients.
  • The brain is not fully formed until the age of 25. Brain development starts from the back of the brain and then progresses to the front. Thus, the frontal lobes are the last to strengthen and make structural connections. The frontal lobes are responsible for planning and reasoning.
  • The brain’s memory storage capacity is assumed to be virtually unlimited. The brain contains about 86 billion neurons, which form connections with each other. This adds up to one quadrillion connections or 1,000 trillion connections. These neurons, over time, combine and further increase the storage capacity. It is important to note that in Alzheimer’s disease, a lot of neurons can get damaged and stop working, resulting in affecting the memory.
  • Brain information can travel up to 268 miles per hour. Neurons, when stimulated, generate electrical impulses which can travel from cell to cell and transmit information. When this process is disrupted, it can cause seizures or epilepsy.
  • By the age of 4, the spinal cord stops growing. The spinal cord is a bundle of nerve tissues that support cells. It is responsible for transmitting messages from the brain to the body, and vice versa. The spinal cord is considered to be the main source of communication that connects the body to the brain. In cases where the spinal cord is affected, this communication is ruptured and can affect the immune system of the individual suffering from it.
  • It is not true that we only use 10% of our brain. In fact, we use all of it, even while sleeping. Neuroscientists have now confirmed that the human brain is always active.
  • The weight of the human brain is about 3 lbs or 1.4 kilograms. It makes up around 2% of the human body weight. 
  • According to Dr Darla Rothman, we spend around 4.4 seconds processing 100 words. However, our brains are naturally wired to process large amounts of visual data rather than text (Webb, 2017).
  • It is said that the brain’s memory capacity is closer to 2.5 petabytes. This means the brain’s memory capacity is 2.5 million gigabytes! Interestingly, neurons combine so that they form many memories at a time, thus, the brain’s memory storage is ever increasing.
  • According to Miller (1956), adults can hold upto 5 to 9 items in their short-term memory. It is usually believed that the short-term capacity of humans is around 7 plus or minus 2 items.
  • The human brain generates around 23 watts of power, which is enough to power a lightbuld. This power calls for the need for rest. Good sleep helps in maintaining the pathways in the brain. Sleep deprivation can increase the accumulation of a protein in the brain which is linked with Alzheimer’s disease.

Conclusion

The article highlighted how many GB is the human brain. It also covered new and emerging studies on the capacity of the human brain. The article highlighted some interesting facts regarding the brain as well.

Frequently Asked Questions: How Many GB is the Human Brain

Can your brain get full?

No. this is because the human brain is very sophisticated. In order to make space for new information, old information is pushed out of the system instead of just cramming and crowding information in.

Why don’t we remember being born?

The hippocampus is involved in the formation and maintenance of memory for both facts and events. When we are born and are in our early childhood, the hippocampus is not fully grown and functioning and thus the memory of birth is likely to be forgotten.

How much information can the brain’s conscious mind handle at once?

The conscious mind can process upto 40 to 120 bits of information per second, depending upon the level of arousal, the extent of selective attention, the amount of sleep received, etc.

How fast can the human brain think?

According to some estimates, the human brain can experience sensory stimuli presented to it in as less than 50 milliseconds. 50 milliseconds is one-twentieth of a second. However, scientists do believe that our brain can in fact respond to information briefer than this, information that lasts for less than a quarter of a millisecond.

References

Im, K., Lee, J. M., Lyttelton, O., Kim, S. H., Evans, A. C., & Kim, S. I. (2008). Brain size and cortical structure in the adult human brain. Cerebral cortex, 18(9), 2181-2191.

Lüders, E., Steinmetz, H., & Jäncke, L. (2002). Brain size and grey matter volume in the healthy human brain. Neuroreport, 13(17), 2371-2374.

Bartol, M, T. et al. Nanoconnectomic upper bound on the variability of synaptic plasticity, eLife (2015). DOI: 10.7554/eLife.10778

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