Similarities between human brain and computer

Over the years the brain has been likened to various technological devices. More than two millennia ago Aristotle thought that the brain was a kind of radiator whose function was to cool the heart, which was the true organ of thought and emotions.

In the seventeenth century, the French philosopher René Descartes claimed that the human brain works like a machine.

Descartes believed that the nerves were filled with what he called “animal spirits” that carried motor and sensory information to the ventricles of the brain in a similar way to how hydraulic fluid works in a machine. In more recent times the brain has been compared to a complex telephone box.

In this post we will show you the similarities between human brain and computer, in addition to highlighting the differences between these two machines.

Similarities between human brain and computer

The similarities between the brain and the computer are reduced to the fact that both are used for the storage and processing of information and to execute tasks, from there, the rest are differences.

The first is that in a computer we have on the one hand the physical part, the hardware, in other words, what you can hit, and on the other hand the software, which is the programs, or what you can only curse.

This differentiation is very clear to us in computers, but in the brain there is no difference between the physical part and the non-physical part.

As for how they work, on a computer we have memory on the one hand and processing on the other.

The gigabytes of memory in our equipment are divided into short-term memory, which is erased when we turn off the computer, and long-term memory, where data is permanently stored. And those memories are separated from the part that carries out the processing, the one that performs the calculations, manages and controls the devices, etc …

In the brain we do not have that distinction, our neurons process the data and store it, our processing unit and storage is the same.

It is also completely different how the information is processed. Humans use our brain, among other things, to process the information we receive from the senses, to think and reason, make decisions … and we can use the computer to perform similar tasks.

Mathematical calculations or questions of logic, processes made up of a sequence of actions, are the type of tasks that a computer can perform.

Computers are much faster than the human brain in performing computations and calculations of various kinds, so they will be more efficient in tasks that can be listed as a series of simple steps.

But, in tasks that cannot be decomposed in this way, the human brain far surpasses any computer, I mean, for example, the interpretation of the world, the creation of ideas, etc …

The process of conducting information, although it may seem similar, is also very different.

In both cases, it is activated by electrical impulses, but the brain produces weak electrical signals through chemicals that establish communication between neurons, while the computer generates electrical signals of higher power.

It is precisely this greater power that makes processing much faster in the computer than in the brain for computational purposes.

Compared to the brain, a computer is very easy to understand. We can open it, we can break it down into its parts and anyone with a minimal explanation is able to understand how it works, however, as regards the brain, there are still many unknowns and questions to be resolved.

And this is a very considerable difference: there are many questions about the functioning of the human brain that we do not know yet and on the computer we do know how everything works.

Another relevant difference is that a computer can be turned off and the brain never turns off, although we are sleeping there are a series of minimum functions that are maintained. In addition, we can update our equipment at any time, expanding its memory, for example, and at the moment, we cannot make those changes to the brain.

Within computing, there is a branch of computing called Artificial Intelligence, which can be defined as the simulation of human intelligence processes, especially learning and reasoning. 

Within this area are artificial neuron network systems, computational models based on the functioning of our neural network, very useful in information classification tasks.

By looking at how our neurons work, systems are created that allow a computer to learn some things, usually to classify series of elements or to reach a set of conclusions, but this does not mean that these artificial neural networks work in the same way that they work. the brain, but we try to simulate its functioning by means of software.

Humans tend to create relationships with the environment around us, including things, that’s why we yell at the computer when it hangs or imagine a robot with a human appearance if we talk about artificial intelligence, but the idea of ​​similarity between computers and the brain Human is due more to literature and cinema than to science.

Artificial Intelligence vs Human Intelligence: 7 differences

That day seems not yet close. There are many differences that separate us from electronic brains, and it is not about superficial questions, but about structure. This is a list with the main differences between the artificial intelligence systems of computers and the functioning of our brain.

1. Its architecture is different

A machine equipped with artificial intelligence has a series of data input and output ports that we can easily identify. This does not occur in our brain: each substructure of its globality can be both a receiver of data and a transmitter of information.

It is also not known in which direction the information travels, since endless branches and loops are a constant in the world of neurons.

2. Its operation is different

In any artificial intelligence structure, the channel through which the data (hardware) and the information itself travel can be distinguished. In a brain, however, the distinction between information and the material medium through which it travels does not exist.

The data that is transmitted is in themselves material changes that determine the attractive force that exists between neurons. If neuron A is more connected with neuron B than with C, the information is one, while if A becomes more connected with C, the information is another.

3. The data that the brain works with cannot be stored

One consequence of not distinguishing between channel and information is that there are no large data deposits in our head either.

That is why we never remember something in the same way, there are always small variations. In fact, it has been proven that even people with highly developed autobiographical memory can have false memories.

4. The importance of context

Our organic brains adapt like a glove to every situation, despite the fact that each of the situations we experience is unique. What’s more: faced with unpredictable contexts, different people are capable of reacting in the same way.

This is something that we do not find in artificial intelligence systems, in which different stimuli lead to the same result only if those stimuli are previously determined: if A, then C; if B, then C.

Human beings, with all our flaws, are made to live in a chaotic context. Our brain is capable of interpreting all stimuli, even if they appear unexpectedly and are totally new.

5. Artificial Intelligence needs regularity

Artificial intelligence systems need to be set up in a very specific way to be able to execute orders and get information from one place to another in the right way. Brains, on the other hand, are unique in each one of us.

Next to the network of approximately 100,000,000,000 neurons that support our thinking, the fingerprints that serve to identify us in some contexts seem to be all the same. Also, our brain is constantly changing, even while we sleep.

The great virtue of our brain is that it can function well at all times despite being subject to constant unpredictable alterations: hence it has been defined as the most complex system that exists.

6. Its origin is different

Any artificial intelligence system has been built by one or more intentional agents: scientists, programmers, etc. Our brains, however, have been carved out by evolution.

That means that, while artificial intelligence is built on certain ways of encoding information following patterns and logical operations, our brain has to cope with a set of nerve cells that do things that are typical of nerve cells (forgive the redundancy).

If a machine works from instructions, the functioning of our brain is based on the game of interactions that occur between neurons.

7. We are more emotional than rational beings

This may be a hasty statement (after all, how do you measure the rational and the irrational?) But, nevertheless, it can be said that logical and systematic thinking is reduced only to certain situations and moments of our day a day.

While machines equipped with artificial intelligence can only work from arguments and premises, in our case it is normal to skip this step.

Realize, for example, everything you are doing now. Does the posture in which you have sat respond to rational criteria, such as the need to keep your back in a position that does not damage it? Or at some point have you decided that above your health the priority is to avoid the effort of keeping your back upright?

What’s more: have you ever asked yourself this issue? The truth is that, although rational thinking and logic have appeared recently in our evolutionary history, our brain has remained more or less the same for 200,000 years.

FAQS: Similarities between human brain and computer

What are the similarities between human and computer?

Computers allow us to transfer, process, store and control information, just as our body allows us to walk, observe, think, etc. The similarities between the computer and the human body can be between the hardware and the physical part of the human body .

Which part of a computer can be compared to the human brain?

While on the computer there is hardware (physical part) and software (programs), in the brain everything is together. In addition, if the computer can expand memory with an external memory, even with the human mind there is no technology to expand our memory capacity or consciousness.

What is the difference between computer and human brain?

In the brain, information processing and memory are carried out by the same areas, whereas in a computer they are two different things. The brain can heal itself and has the ability to multitask at the same time, from the same areas.

What are the similarities between robots and humans?

The ability to do calligraphy is not the only trait that brings him closer to human beings. The robot is a physically very similar replica of a person. In the motor aspect, the difference with the fluid movements of a person is appreciated, but the facial expression can be equated in some gestures.

Is human brain faster than computer?

The computer can perform calculations faster than the human brain, although the brain has the ability to interpret information, obtain new ideas, and be imaginative.

In this post we have shown you the similarities between human brain and computer, in addition to highlighting the differences between these two machines.

If you have any questions or comments please let us know!


Harvey, R. J. (1995). Can computers think? Differences and similarities between computers and brains. Progress in Neurobiology, 45(2), 99–127.

‌Shapshak, P. (2018). Artificial Intelligence and brain. Bioinformation, 14(01), 038–041.