Recent research co-authored by Kristin Harris, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Texas, Austin, unveiled a stunning increase in our brain’s memory capacity. By a cautious factor of 10, human memory’s new size puts it in the same ballpark as the World Wide Web.
Awash in a sea of chemical and electrical patterns, in our cerebral cortex’s medial temporal lobe, sits the hippocampus, a seahorse shaped structure credited with memory recall and recognition. Though synapses are still something of a mystery, it seems that the memory capacity of neurons depends on synapse size.
Hippocampal neurons function with low energy but high computation power. Discovery of our increased memory occurred with study of a volume of hippocampus the size of a single red blood cell! It seems that far greater activity occurs within the function of these “memory” synapses.
Ultimately, this will help engineers build more powerful computers that are also energy efficient.
The Human Brain Project includes goals of “Brain Inspired Computing and Robotics” and “Interactive Supercomputing”, techniques capable of sophisticated learning and analysis, speech and object recognition and translation. All the offshoot of human brain analysis.
This opens a means of creating “neuromorphic” computing systems that use unique brain traits, energy efficiencies, and the ability to learn. Our brain is amazingly efficient, using only 20 watts of continuous power, like a dim bulb. Further knowledge of hippocampal synapse function can be built into the design of computers that also rely on deep learning.
Of course, optimal organic conditions don’t always translate well into my own recall experiences, as in “What’s the word for that…?” Familiar? Turns out, stress and distractions are serious memory compromises. Many false confessions are common under duress. Poor sleep hampers memory . Even the act of taking a snapshot compromises our ability to recall that event. So, for this writer, until engineers can implant a more energy efficient memory chip, size really doesn’t matter.