Saturday, November 17, 2012

Storage Overload?

Ever thought your brain was full?

Well, while it may not be possible to actually use all of the brain's capacity to store memories -- there's more space than there is time in a human lifespan -- Cambridge neuroscientist Daniel Bor suggests that it is possible to reach the limits of what the human brain can process.

The problem is that everyday life presents the brain with a monumental amount of data. And since our brains don't plug into the wall, they require energy to run those processors. Bor points out that a newborn baby's brain uses up 87 percent of the body's resources, and even in an adult a quarter of the energy required by the body is used to run ol' Mr. Noggin. This may be a telling statistic; it's possible that someone like Roseanne Barr, Ann Coulter or Eric Holder is simply suffering from an overly-reduced calorie intake rather than the obvious condition.

Because of those situations -- the high data load presented by even an ordinary day and the high energy demands of the brain -- Bor thinks that attempts to increase the amount of brain input, via a sort of wired system or artificial intelligence boosts or something similar may not be successful. The data input could overload the processing capacity, perhaps resulting in a literal Blue Screen of Death as the brain shuts down from the increase. Or it could require so much of the body's energy that health of the body's other parts might suffer: "Well, I can't heal this minor flesh wound, because the brain is sucking all the calorie input. Sorry about the gangrene."

So while it's glaringly obvious that some people's brains don't function at anywhere near the upper edge of their design specs, it may very well be that they're functioning at or near their own individual limits.

Which can, if you think about it, be kind of depressing in more than one instance.

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