How Much Does My Brain Weigh?

This article answers your question about how much your brain weighs. The article also covers information on memory, and parts of the brain, and answer some frequently asked questions regarding the same.

How Much Does My Brain Weigh?

The weight of the human brain is about 3 lbs or 1.4 kilograms. It makes up around 2% of the human body weight. As compared to the mouse brain, the human brain contains more than 100 billion neurons.

These neurons are connected with other neurons with the help of synapses. This makes the human brain a 3-pound, or 1.4 kg organ in the brain which is more complex than the numerous individual parts that make up the brain. 

The human brain’s capacity for memory is equivalent to trillions of bytes of information. A study at Stanford found that our cerebral cortex alone has the space to hold 125 trillion synapses. Another study found that one synapse in the human brain can hold up to 4.7 bits of information. 

Neurons are brain cells that make up the brain. Neurons are responsible for transmitting messages that they carry to the brain from the body and vice versa. Synapses bridge the gap between the neurons in the brain and help them carry the messages to be transmitted. 

Hence, if there are 125 trillion synapses in the human brain, and one synapse can carry an average of 4.7 bits of information, then we can say that the human brain’s memory capacity equals 1 trillion bytes or 1 TB. 

The human brain is a marvellous organ and has many more capabilities apart from memory. More and more studies are highlighting the brilliance of the human brain, and it is only a matter of time till we discover all of its capabilities. 

There are about 1 billion neurons in the human brain and each of these neurons has 1,000 other connections with other neurons accounting to more than trillions of connections. 

Types of Memory 

When it comes to understanding different kinds of memories, there has been a heated debate on the classification of memories by experts. One agreed-upon consensus seems to be the acceptance of the existence of three types of memory, while the other types of memories fall under these three categories. 

Another way to classify memories is to think about them in terms of stages and processes. Experts who tend to categorise memory into explicit memory and implicit memory assert that sensory memory, short term memory, and long term memory are stages of memory and not categories or types of memory. 

Sensory Memory 

Sensory memory stores information received by the senses after they have received the stimulation. Experts who believe in stages of memory instead of categorization of memory claim that the formation of all memories begins with the information being stored in sensory memory. 

Sensory memory is very brief, holding information only for a few seconds. Recalling the sensation of touch, or a sound you heard while walking is an example of sensory memory. 

When a sensation is continuously recurring, you begin to expand on it by attaching other memories to it. This is when the sensory memory is transformed into your short-term memory. More rehearsal can shift it to your long-term memory. 

Short-term Memory 

Short-term memory lasts for brief periods of time. It is not as short as sensory memory, but it is not as permanent as long-term memory either. Another name for short-term me, or is primary or active memory. 

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.

Short-term memory can last from about 20 to 30 seconds or less according to the Information-Processing Model of Memory put forth by Atkinson and Shiffrin (1968). This model is also known as the Multi-Store Memory Model.

Memories from short-term memory can be transformed into long-term memories by rehearsal. This means simply repeating the information to yourself several times. Another way to move information into the long-term is by elaborating the information and making it personally meaningful by entailing deeper processing of the information in question. 

Working memory is considered to be the fourth distinct kind of memory by some experts, while others are of the view that working memory and short-term memory can be used interchangeably.

Long-term Memory

The majority of our knowledge is stored in long-term memory. Generally, any information that can be recollected after 30 seconds is considered to be a long-term memory. 

There is no limit on how much information can be stored in the long-term memory and how long it will remain there. Long-term Memory can be of two types: explicit and implicit long-term memory. 

Three Parts of the Brain

There are three main parts of the brain, they are The cerebrum, the cerebellum, and the brain stem. Each of these parts has specific functions that they are responsible for. They are: 

The Cerebrum

The cerebrum makes up most of the skull. It is in control of memory, problem-solving, decision-making, and emotional regulation.

The Cerebellum

The Cerebellum is at the back of the head. It is right under the cerebrum and is in charge of balance and coordination. 

The Brain Stem

The brainstem is situated under the cerebrum and is in front of the cerebellum. The brainstem connects the brain to the spinal cord. It is responsible for the regulation of breathing, digestion, heart rate, and maintenance of blood pressure.

Information About the Human Brain

The brain is comprised of well-specialised areas which work together in unison:

  • The cortex is in charge of thinking and voluntary movements and is situated in the outermost layer of the brain.
  • The brainstem is situated between the spinal cord and the brain. It is responsible for the functions of breathing and sleep.
  • The basal ganglia situated in the centre of the brain is responsible for the coordination of messages between several parts of the brain.
  • The cerebellum is situated at the base and the back of the brain and is in charge of coordination and balance (Strick et al., 2009). 

The brain is further divided into four lobes (Casillo et al., 2020):

The Frontal Lobe

The frontal lobe is in charge of problem-solving, judgment, decision-making, and motor functions (Stuss & Alexander, 2000).

The Parietal Lobes

The parietal lobes handle sensation, handwriting, as well as the position of the body.

The Temporal Lobes

The temporal lobes are responsible for memory and hearing.

The Occipital Lobes

The occipital lobes include the visual processing system of the brain.

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.

Conclusion

This article answered your question about how much your brain weighs. The article also covered information on memory, and parts of the brain, and answer some frequently asked questions regarding the same.

Frequently Asked Questions: How Much Does My Brain Weigh?

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.

What brain part controls balance?

The cerebellum

What part of the brain controls cough?

Medulla Oblongata regulates breathing, blood pressure, heartbeat, digestion, and our sleep cycles.

References 

Atkinson, R. C., & Shiffrin, R. M. (1968). Chapter: Human memory: A proposed system and its control processes. In Spence, K. W., & Spence, J. T. The psychology of learning and motivation (Volume 2). New York: Academic Press. pp. 89–195.

Casillo, S. M., Luy, D. D., & Goldschmidt, E. (2020). A History of the Lobes of the Brain. World Neurosurgery, 134, 353-360.

Miller, G. A. (1956). The magical number seven, plus or minus two: Some limits on our capacity for processing information. Psychological review, 63(2), 81.

Stuss, D. T., & Alexander, M. P. (2000). Executive functions and the frontal lobes: a conceptual view. Psychological research, 63(3), 289-298.

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