How Much of the Brain is Water?

The article will answer the question “how much of the brain is water?” The article will also address some lesser-known facts about the brain and will conclude by answering some frequently asked questions.

How Much of the Brain is Water?

According to H.H. Mitchell, Journal of Biological Chemistry 158, the brain is made up of 73% water along with the heart. The lungs are about 83% water. Our skin contains 64% of water, and kidneys and muscles are composed of 83% water. Even our bones are made up of 31% of water. 

What are the essential functions of water in the human body?

The following are essential functions of water in the human body:

  • Water is a nutrient to the life of every cell on earth as it is the building material
  • Water regulates our body temperatures by the process of sweating and respiration
  • The food we eat is metabolised and transported with the help of water in the bloodstream
  • Water facilitates in elimination of waste through urination
  • Water helps in the formation of saliva
  • Water helps in lubricating our joints

The Human Brain in RAM and GB

The brain has an average of 2.5 Petabytes of RAM. What is known as RAM in computer language is understood to be working memory in the human brain. The capacity of the working memory in the human brain is upto 2.5 Petabytes.

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.

What is the Human Brain Processing Capacity?

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”.

Does the brain have an information limit?

The amount of information that can be stored in the brain by the trillions of synapses is a large amount, however, it is not infinite. But, interestingly, the amount of information we can learn is usually not limited by the brain’s storage capacity but is influenced by other factors.

Attention is a resource that is limited in nature (Kahneman, 1973). We can pay attention to only a number of things at once. Attention is extremely necessary when it comes to the formation of new memories, if we don’t pay attention then our memories fail to get formed. We only have 16-18 waking hours, and thus this limits us from forming newer memories.

The second limitation is the kind of information we are learning. When we learn something first, we usually store it better than the material we learn later. For example, if you’ve acquired a phobia of heights, it is difficult to unlearn or overcome that fear. Though it can be suppressed with the help of therapy, it can often return.

Our brain is also sensitive to certain kinds of information across developmental spans. For instance, the earlier years of our lives are best when it comes to learning the language. However, when our knowledge of one language is solidified and engrained, learning a second language can be difficult and we may get confused while at it.

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).

Conclusion

The article answers the question “how much of the brain is water?” The article also addresses some lesser-known facts about the brain and concludes by answering some frequently asked questions.

Frequently Asked Questions: How Much of the Brain is Water?

How many lobes does the brain have?

The cerebrum has four hemispheres, each of these has four sections also known as lobes, each of these lobes control different specific functions. 

The four lobes are known as the frontal lobe, parietal lobe, temporal lobe and occipital lobe (Casillo et al., 2020).

What part of the brain controls cough?

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

What is known as a “little brain”?

The cerebellum is also known as the (“little brain”) and is a fist-sized portion of the brain. The cerebellum just like the cerebral cortex has two hemispheres. The outer portion contains neurons, and the inner area communicates with the cerebral cortex. 

References

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

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.

Strick, P. L., Dum, R. P., & Fiez, J. A. (2009). Cerebellum and nonmotor function. Annual review of neuroscience, 32(1), 413-434.

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