How Powerful is the Human Brain?

With the rise of artificial intelligence, comparing robots and humans has become inevitable. Folks tend to romanticize a world controlled by a computer, but I’ve questioned it. And this led me to start researching a computer that many of us (myself included) take for granted, the human brain.

According to Live Science, the human brain is the command center for the nervous system. It’s a bulk of tissue that weighs roughly 3 lbs. (1.4 kilograms) and possesses about 100 billion neurons with 1 quadrillion (1 million billion) connections known as synapses. The brain is divided into two hemispheres, with the left hemisphere controlling muscles for the right side of the body and the right hemisphere controlling muscles for the left side. The average male has a brain volume of 1,274 cubic centimeters and the average female has a volume of 1,131 centimeters.

Recent studies have found that the world’s most advanced supercomputers are no competition for the human brain, with computers being only one-thirtieth as powerful. Two Ph.D. students—Katja Grace from the University of California, Berkeley, and Paul Christiano from Carnegie Mellon University—determined this by using the TEPS (traversed edges per second) measurement system. Grace and Christiano also used the IBM Sequoia supercomputer as an AI example. Science Alert advised the following:

The machine currently holds the TEPS benchmark record with 2.3 x 1013 TEPS of power at its disposal. Their calculations suggest that the brain is at least as agile and possibly up to 30 times faster than Sequoia at shifting data around. Based on current market prices, that means you stand to earn between $4,700 and $170,000 if you rented out your brain’s computing power for an hour.

Kwabena Boahen, Ph.D. argued that the brain can do more calculations per second because it’s massively parallel and networks of neurons work simultaneously to solve problems. Traditional computers operate sequentially, which means a step must be completed before the next step is begun.

Our brain sculpts who we are and the world we experience; it tells us what to see, what to hear, and what to say; it expands to accommodate a new language or skill learned; it tells stories while we sleep; it sends alarm signals to our body when we’re in danger; it adapts to environments, tells our bodies what time of day it is, and it stores memories. In recent years, scientists have found 10 discoveries about our brain.

  1. The “roseship neuron,” named because of its bushy appearance, is an elusive brain cell that only makes up 10% of the first level of the neocortex. The neocortex plays a role in vision and hearing.
  2. Both sides of the brain process vision, but the right is dominant in detecting faces and the left is dominant in processing words.
  3. Our brain may contain harmless bacteria. Researchers found that microorganisms tend to dwell in the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex and substantia nigra. They have also been found in brain cells called astrocytes.
  4. Our brains are magnetic. Scientists have found particles in our brains that can be magnetized.
  5. Researchers found that ancient viral DNA plays a role in communication among brain cells that are required for higher learning. The viral gene called Arc packages sends off information from one nerve cell to the next.
  6.  There’s a reoccurring debate between scientists about whether older brain cells create new ones or not.
  7. Stress may shrink the brain. Those with higher levels of cortisol (stress hormone) have slightly smaller brain volumes and perform poorly on a memory test.
  8. Our brain spares us from hearing all of our footsteps. Researchers have found that, like mice, the human brain has a built-in noise filter. It combines cells in the motor cortex (an area involved with movement) and auditory cortex (an area involved with sound), and brain cells in the motor cortex fire signals to block cells in the auditory cortex from firing their signals.
  9. Psychedelic drugs can change the structure of brain cells.
  10. The millions of brain cells that live in the large intestine is called the enteric nervous system. Because the cells function without any instructions from the brain or spine, scientists refer to it as the second brain.

Now that we know the power of the human brain, we must exercise it daily. Many have told me that reading/learning is to the brain what calisthenics/cardio/weightlifting is to the body, and I couldn’t agree more. The National Academic advised that learning changes the physical structure of the brain, alters the functional organization of the brain, and organizes and reorganizes the brain. There’s also a new level of clarity that comes with unfogging it.

Lumosity, daily reading, a clean diet, and exercise has helped me and my brain health a great deal. If you have any additional information on how to take care of our personal computer, feel free to comment below.

Until Next Time…

 

 

 

 

(Sources)

Choi, C. Q. (2013, October 30). Human brain may be even more powerful computer than thought. Retrieved January 30, 2020, from https://www.nbcnews.com/sciencemain/human-brain-may-be-even-more-powerful-computer-thought-8C11497831

Lewis, T. (2013, March 14). Human Brain: Facts, Functions & Anatomy. Retrieved September 28, 2018, from https://www.livescience.com/29365-human-brain.html

Nield, D. (2015, August 28). Your Brain Is Still 30 Times More Powerful Than The Best Supercomputers. Retrieved January 30, 2020, from https://www.sciencealert.com/your-brain-is-still-30-times-more-powerful-than-the-best-supercomputers

Saplakoglu, Y. (2018, December 23). 10 Things We Learned About the Brain in 2018. Retrieved January 30, 2020, from https://www.livescience.com/64345-amazing-brain-2018.html

Thompson, V. (2013, March 14). Energy Efficient Brain Simulator Outperforms Supercomputers. Retrieved January 30, 2020, from https://www.livescience.com/27907-neurogrid-brain-simulator-brain-awareness-nsf.html

How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School: Expanded Edition: Mind and Brain. (n.d.). Retrieved January 30, 2020, from https://www.nap.edu/read/9853/chapter/8

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