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How Much Memory Does the Brain Have?


Does my brain have more memory than my smart phone?

Well, maybe not. Several gigabytes is about the amount of space in both cases. This means that our brains can only store several hours of music, including a few songs we would own up to, tons of pictures from our last vacation, and a dozen or so apps we never use, right?

Well, no. Because our brains have something that our smart phones do not. Neurons. These neurons, which number in the billions, form connections with other neurons which results in trillions of connections. Yet, even if the neurons themselves were where our memories were stored, that wouldn’t be much space and we might run out of space. Instead, it’s believed that the memories are stored in these connections, which again, number in the trillions.

So how many gigs?

In effect, your brain will never run out of memory despite it feeling that way at times. However, actually measuring the amount of space in our brains for memory is difficult. Most scientists agree that we don’t have a method of measuring it but if we did, it would likely be in the several petabyte range. A single petabyte is a million gigabytes, to put into smart phone numbers.

However, that number is really just an estimate based on an estimated number of neurons in our brains. Science might reveal that the actual amount of space is much more. It’s happened before.

How long does the battery last?

Well, there is not a battery but the brain does require surprisingly little power to accomplish storing, or while having the capability to store, this vast and possibly immeasurable amount information. Requiring about the same amount of power that would keep a dim light bulb lit, the brain is able to accomplish this feat.

Though, there are some things we can do to ensure that our memories are working optimally. These are of course things like sleeping well, exercising, and using our brain so that it gets plenty of practice and experience.

Can I upgrade?

You’re stuck with the brain you have but we’re sure it’s quite capable. However, there does seem to be ways to get more out of it. There are people who have experienced head trauma and afterwards could remember things from their past or remember complex pieces of information that they were previously unaware they even knew. It would seem that the information was stored but not forgotten and after the trauma, the information was recollected with surprising ease.

Additionally, in a perhaps more controversial topic, there is a growing number of people who believe that there is a such thing as memory or cognition enhancers. These drugs are referred to as nootropics. The effectiveness of nootropics is an ongoing study but there does seem to be some evidence that they can improve memory, creativity and motivation. However, because it is such a new concept, though one for which there is an existing market, there is little known about possible side effects.

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