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I used to think there was something wrong with me. But in chatting with my peers, it seems that each one of us has a story. For example: one cannot, to save his life, keep track of time. "I'll be leaving in 10 minutes" could mean 20 minutes or 4 hours. Another has on occassion forgotten who he's talking to on the phone - to the point where his last words to a client before he hung up were "love you bye" - I kid you not. So I got to thinking (a dangerous thing).
After we've developed into adults, our brain cell count is as high as it will ever be - yes? So it stands that the brain power available to us is finite as well.
Also consider that none of us are able to completely use our full brain power - humans simply haven't figured it out yet. So the storage area is that much smaller though we don't really know how much space is taken up remembering where we put our lunch.
But assuming the storage area is finite I theorize that we each decide what's important for us to remember, keep track of and otherwise expend our brain power on. The rest of it wanders off into the short term memory stack where it waits. This stack, however, is volatile.
If more input is added to the short term memory stack (I pick up a book on RDF/RSS and think I should read it) SOMEthing has to fall out the other end - like my wife's birthday (just kidding honey).
Now if you're wondering if you might be a victim of this phenomenon I have concluded how to determine if you're at risk:
Using my vast knowledge of medical science (zilch) I've developed this equation for the storage area (sa in megabytes) of our brain:
sa = (mass of our brain * volume)/ (age * alcohol consumed). Alcohol in beer is about 5%, in wine about 14%, etc. so the total amount would have to be calculated. The mass of the average human brain about 1360g and the volume about 1500cc.
So for example: 1360g * 1500cc / 40 * 76 = 671.54MB. 76 comes from a guess at the variety of alcoholic beverages I've consumed in my life time.
In the perfect example of no alcohol my sa should be 51,000MB. Some alcohol is ok so I theorize a safe SA to be about 10,000MB for someone of my age (because it's a nice round number).
So there you have it.
alchochol and brain.. this reminds me of the Homer quote :
Oh, Lisa, you and your stories: Bart's a vampire, beer kills brain cells. Now let's go back to that... building...thingie... where our beds and TV... is.
This statement has no basis in medical science. Humans have been shown to use all regions of their brain at various times, just not all of it at once. It's one of those common myths that float around and no one really konws how or why it got started.
Forgetting has been put forward as a mechanism to conserve energy and retain sanity rather than a simple overflow function - ie the info is still there but we can't always access it. Capacity isn't really the issue. It's the cataloging system and the access pathways to the information that limit recall rather than what's actually stored in there in the first place. These factors are damaged by cell death and degeneration due to age and reinforced through emotional stimuli and continual use, etc etc, thus increasing the complexity of the system.
However when I went to university and learnt a whole bunch of cool stuff (like how we use our brains) I forgot the difference between left and right. My boyfriend has given me driving lessons and it's not pretty. So I think there is some overflow action involved too.
This statement has no basis in medical science.
shelleycat - You are correct! Like I said, I know zero about medical science. That being said, the statement wasn't completely based on thin air. I'm pretty sure I got that idea from a respectable source (I believe it was National Geographic Magazine) although it was 20 years ago. I stand corrected - but my theory still stands! ;)
BTW - I do find the human brain to be a fascinating subject. I am totally in awe at how the human body works - let alone that it works at all.
I am totally in awe at how the human body works - let alone that it works at all.
That's exactly how I feel :) Nicely put.
I do think you're on to something with the quantifying part and I'm sure I've read articles where people are trying to do similar things, i.e. set some kind of measure on the information capacity of our brains. But I think the emphasis is more on how to access that information rather than exatly how much is there. I'm sure this can still be expressed in computing terms although I'm not sure how.